Some ideas from the civil service about what to do over the train services:
Civil servants at the Department for Transport have put forward proposals to take much greater control of the running of the train operating companies, raising the spectre of the recreation of the defunct strategic rail authority.
A high level briefing document seen by The Times states: “The franchise model . . . faces real challenge — chiefly ensuring it remains commercial and politically sustainable.”
This would, as the paper goes on to point out, mean building out capabilities in that department. Or, as C. Northcote Parkinson would have pointed out, the aim and intent of every bureaucracy is to expand the budget of that bureaucracy.
However, over and above the usual self serving nature of the proposals we're really quite sure that this isn't going to work:
“Reforms may be required to better manage uncertainty, eg HMG [the government] retaining more or all revenue risk.
Which of the various lines is it that has the general public near to revolution? Why, that would be Southern, wouldn't it?
What is the general arrangement for the management of the Southern line? Govia runs the system on a day to day basis, under a contract from government. That is, this is not in fact a franchise, this is a management contract. One in which all revenue risk is carried by said government. Fares go to the centre, the agreed fee is paid for running the network.
In order to mitigate the outrage about the train system the civil services suggests expanding the management system applied to that part of the network which produces the most outrage.
Really, we're quite sure that this is unlikely to work.