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STRANG SOUNDS WARNING TO PRIVATE RAIL OPERATORS

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Minister for transport Gavin Strang today sounded a warning to train companies about the standards of service to pa...
Minister for transport Gavin Strang today sounded a warning to train companies about the standards of service to passengers that they would be required to meet in future.

Responding to the announcement by Rail Franchising Director John O'Brien that private rail operator South West Trains had improved its performance after widespread cancellations in February and March, Dr Strang said:

'We met the Franchising Director last night to express our dissatisfaction with the performance of South West Trains. The company has now achieved the level of service the Franchising Director requires, and he will not therefore be proceeding with a fine against it on this occasion. I am assured that the Franchising Director is satisfied that there will be no repetition of the cancellations which occurred in February and March.

'I hope these assurances will be justified by events: passengers on South West Trains have suffered intolerable inconvenience in the last few months and it must not happen again. I have insisted that the Franchising Director should ensure South West Trains' future performance is kept under closest scrutiny, and that it sustains its improved performance level.

'The privatised railway receives hundreds of millions of pounds in subsidy from taxpayers each year, and we expect high quality services in return. We have asked for a report on the shortcomings of the sanctions currently available to the regulators, to assist in our review of the railway. Our clear aim is to ensure that the regulation of the privatised rail industry is strengthened in the interests of passengers.

'The South West Trains episode supports our belief that the weapons currently available to the regulators are inadequate. Let me assure passengers that this government will use all the tools at its disposal to ensure that the public interest always comes first.

'Train operators across the country are on warning: this government will not tolerate inadequate performance.'

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