Reports of financial issues hitting Abellio Greater Anglia, the train operating company which runs railway services in the East, including Cambridge to Liverpool Street, are a direct result of the Government’s failed franchising system, says Cambridge MP and Member of the Transport Select Committee Daniel Zeichner. It is reported that the operator has had to draw on £80m from its Dutch parent company, to fulfil its obligations to the Government under the franchise agreement.
Abellio are now holding urgent talks with the government in a bid to change the funding formula, but Mr Zeichner says that the Transport Select Committee’s investigation into the East Coast mainline failure showed the Government are highly resistant to any changes in the funding formula.
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, says “I quizzed senior Government officials on exactly this issue back in July. The franchising system is extremely complicated, but it comes down to who takes the risk – the company or the tax-payer? Under a privatised system it is supposed to be the company, which is bad news for Abellio Greater Anglia who admitted back in 2016 that this was a very ambitious franchise. We now need guarantees from Chris Grayling over the future of this franchise, and the vital services and new rolling-stock that have been promised.“