Shadow Railway Minister Tan Dhesi said the announcement was a welcome admission that privatization had not worked, but added: „Taxpayers will continue to pay hundreds of millions of pounds in profits to private rail companies to operate the network. This is completely unacceptable. These agreements speak to the flaws of a broken rail system. The ERMAs forced the operators and the DfT to agree on whether a payment was necessary to terminate the old franchise agreements and, if so, how much, based on the pre-pandemic negotiating conditions. The emergency contract for Great Western, also operated by First, was extended early this month until next June to justify the agreement the operator and the government intend to enter into. The department of transportation manager is ready to take over the rail franchise if no new agreement is reached. To date, since the beginning of the pandemic, the government has spent up to $3.5 billion to cover losses to railways. It nationalized them in March, when rail franchise agreements were suspended. Under the old system, companies offer to operate services on lines with multi-year contracts. Railway operators then paid the state on the basis of ticketing revenues – but the pandemic destroyed this business model. The Office for National Statistics has stated that all train companies are almost temporarily nationalised under the current emergency agreements. „We welcome this agreement, which is an evolution of the contractual framework of our Avanti cable and train operators, both in the provision of resistant services throughout the coronavirus pandemic and in a long-term sustainable approach,“ said Matthew Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of First. At the beginning of the closure, the DfT announced emergency measures for the entire British railway, with passengers having already left the trains, even before the government asked all workers, except the main ones, to avoid public transport.
FirstGroup said the new measures came into effect Sunday for its South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and West Coast Partnership, which includes HS2 and Avanti West Coast.