Exclusive: Southern Railway contract to be investigated by National Audit Office

How infuriating it must be, then, for free-market ideologues that east coast depended on less public subsidies than any of the 15 privately run rail franchises. Indeed, the franchise has proved a lucrative cash cow for the state, bringing in around £1bn to the exchequer since 2009. East coast is an embarrassing success story for public ownership. Instead, it must be run by a tax exile and a Scottish businessman perhaps best known for campaigning against gay equality. source Owen Jones Guardian 2014. Now we have another train operator hitting the buffers, and yet again the ideologues of the right have seen that the Free Market solution to the UK’s infrastructure problems has failed. Many years ago I did a talk on Enoch Powell and his ideas on the free market. In summing up I remember saying “Powell’s arguments are based on a false premises. The markets in which he bases his theories never did or will ever exist. Almost every nationalisation has ended up as cartels which fix prices and which the shareholder rather than the consumer is king.

David Hencke

southern-railway-train-pic-credit-bbc A Southern Railway train: often overcrowded even if it runs. Pic Credit:BBC


The badly managed and strike prone Southern Railway contract is to be investigated by Parliament’s financial watchdog, the National Audit Office.

After months if not a years of misery for commuters caused by failing services and strike action over safety  the NAO has quietly decided to investigate the Department of Transport’s  handling of the contract alongside another investigation into the modernisation of Thameslink services. Both are major commuter services  into the capital and both are owner by Govia, the country’s biggest privatised train operator.

The decision by the NAO has been quietly slipped out on its website as an update to the Thameslink investigation without an official announcement. Such a move is bound to cause some consternation for transport secretary, Chris Grayling, and his officials.

Publication of the report due this summer will trigger…

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