Why Southeastern’s reporting figures must be made public

‘Commenting on the report, Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, said: “The troubled history of this programme hammers home the importance of getting contracts right—and the importance of then holding contractors properly to account.”‘

Troubled history ?? check

Contracts poorly framed to deliver what’s required ?? check

Promises of being held properly to account not kept ?? check

Except this wasn’t about Southeastern, this was about the DWP’s Work Capability Assessments – and an interesting headline there, too.

There’s one big difference here, though. Whilst it impacts on claimants, the WCA contracts are about a service delivered to Government. For railway franchises, we’re talking about a service delivered to us, the paying travellers, by a monopoly provider. How much more important, then, that the contracts are not only properly framed (well, that one’s flown until 2018 at the earliest) but also properly managed.

We have no confidence that this is happening. All we have is a bland assertion from the Rail Minister that Southeastern haven’t breached the terms of the franchise agreement. We are absolutely entitled to see the figures that can tell us whether this is really the case. The public interest here is far greater than any considerations of so-called commercial confidentiality.

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