Tracking the accounts from one organisation to another is never easy. Companies account for their businesses using different annual periods and yesterday at work we discovered that one of our suppliers even deals with its transactions on what they call fiscal months rather than calendar months, so that for Bose the month is just ending apparently. There is always acceptable reasons why money paid into one organisation and the funds paid out do not match in a given period. The news that Network Rail has paid £22m to Govia in compensation for service disruption does not mean that the same sum will have been paid out to travellers. There will always be a mismatch but when the sum paid out to travellers to compensate them is a mere £2m that should surely ring very loud bells in the office of Paul Maynard, the Rail Minister. It is not as though the disconnect is limited to Govia, after all the total sum paid out by Network Rail is £105m and the total sum paid out to passengers is £45m so the difference across the UK rail network is a whopping £60m, but a third of it relates to one operator, and their share is the biggest of any operator.
Its perfectly reasonable for the sums to be different and for Govia to have retained some of the funds, after all they will probably have paid for buses and paid staff overtime out to ensure that passengers eventually got home. However living in Brighton with many friends who travel to London either daily or certainly several times a week, the problems are immense and that is before the issue of industrial action is taken into account. When it comes to public or semi-public services such as the railways, any industrial action or staff failings seem to be used to justify the problems in a way that is rarely tolerated in the private sector. It is the role of the management and in this case the Government too to ensure that industrial disputes are resolved. So if Govia have spent some of the £20m on buses or overtime etc it is surely not unreasonable of them to publish what has been spent on those sort of factors. This will then give us a bit of clarity, rather than simply being told by spokesmen for both Govia and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), representing train operators that Network Rais payments are “entirely separate” from those made to passengers. That would then perhaps give Ministers like Paul Maynard and his boss Chris Grayling the information they need to challenge these companies running public franchises to do a better job of compensating passengers.