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Berated train firm's franchise extended


Berated train firm's franchise extended


Train firm Southeastern has had its franchise agreement extended until 2014 despite complaints from Kent’s MPs about poor standards.

The Department of Transport formally offered the continuation saying the operator met performance standards.

It follows several meetings between Kent’s MPs and transport minister Theresa Villiers looking into performance statistics and what they said was a substandard service.

In December, hundreds of passengers were left stranded on platforms and on trains as services were cancelled with little or no information to commuters.

MPs called for the franchise to be scrapped altogether.

But under the terms of the agreement, the contract has been extended by another two years.

Southeastern’s managing director Charles Horton said: "We’re pleased that the current franchise will now continue until March 2014.

"Throughout, our focus will remain on improving services for our customers in Kent, south east London and East Sussex.

"From the summer this year we will move to the ‘delay repay’ compensation scheme, meaning that any passenger delayed by 30 minutes or more can claim compensation.

"This is an arrangement that will be welcomed by passengers and rail user groups.

"We’re also pleased to announce that from May 23 Southeastern will be introducing a new high speed service for Maidstone, something passengers and local stakeholders in Kent’s County Town have been calling for.

"I’m hopeful that over the past five years passengers have noticed improvements: We’re now operating more services than ever before, including new high speed trains, we have invested heavily in staff training and development, and have made improvements to many of our stations and trains.

"But we know there’s plenty more to do, particularly to continue improving the punctuality of services and also provide better information to customers during times of disruption.

"Finally, in 2012 Southeastern is set to play an important role supporting the Olympic transport plan and we’re working with industry partners to deliver this successfully".

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