Over the next 12 months, no fewer than four railway operating franchises are coming up for renewal (the list is here) and three more are subject to a review. The closest deadline is December, by which time the West Coast Main Line franchise must be either transferred to the new boss (First Group) or it reverts to the government. As johnf points out, the more litigation that happens, the closer it gets.
After that, First’s control of the Great Western comes up in April, National Express’s of the Essex Thames-side route in May, and First’s control of Thameslink in September 2013. There is then a pause – the renationalised East Coast Main Line is next, in December, but that’s it until the Kent integrated franchise in March, 2014.
Update: Fooled by a civil service chart! No! Before we get to Kent, there are a whole slab of franchises that are extended out to 2015, but only subject to a review in December 2013. Those would be East Midlands, West Midlands, and Inter-City Cross Country.
To put it another way, if no decisions are taken, a very large chunk of the railway could be out of the silly experiment and back to normality by September. And with a couple of decisions, privatised TOCs could be a minor curiosity by December next. There ought to be a campaign. Oh, there is, but I’m not seeing any campaign to demand that the franchises just revert, already. It needs to be more radical and more specific.
It couldn’t be simpler – Do Nothing! or Inaction, Later! or 2, 4, 6, 8, It’s Not Too Late To Procrastinate!