Rail firms 'get cash incentive to cut services'

THE government plans to give train companies a financial incentive to cut services, a coalition of 50 organisations claimed today.

The organisations, which include passenger groups, have written to Transport Secretary Lord Adonis expressing their concerns.

"The Department for Transport (DfT) is trying to pave the way for rail cuts," said Cat Hobbs, of the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

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The organisations say the plans are contained in a DfT consultation document – The Future Of Rail Franchising. The CBT said the document states that "under the current process there is no incentive for operators to make sensible changes to services that are no longer justified".

It goes on: "The department is therefore considering amending the current franchise agreement so that, where operators propose sensible measures to reduce costs during their franchise term, they will be rewarded by receiving a proportion of these savings."

Ms Hobbs said: "We've asked why this proposal isn't subject to formal consultation and we've received no reply yet.

"Passengers must be given the chance to comment when services are cut."