Taxpayers are footing a £50 million bill for the biggest series of rail strikes in a generation, while the company in charge of the train line stands to save money, it has emerged.
The walkout by drivers and conductors on the Southern Rail line led to trains being cancelled for 300,000 commuters in the South East on Tuesday, prompting ministers to indicate that they are prepared to strengthen anti-strike laws.
It has emerged that, because of a deal struck with Southern by the Government, the cost of the disruption will be borne by the taxpayer.
Yes, this is so. Revenue flows to the government, the train operator, Govia, is on a (not quite) fixed price management contract.
Nick Herbert, the Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs and a former minister, said: “Because of the way the franchise is structured, there isn’t proper accountability. It should be the company bearing the cost of compensation and failure to meet targets.
“Whilst I am certain it is the unions that are currently causing most of the problems, there are separate underlying issues with the franchise.”
It’s not a franchise, it’s a management contract. Why I know not but that is what it is.
And thus Nick Herbert is an idiot.