09 March 2016 | Phil Rogers

PPM doesn’t matter, does it?

It doesn’t.

I’ve been obsessing over PPM and if Southeastern have met their targets or not.

As have our MPs in a recent debate in Parliament

So, there was me, recovering from being ill, and I recalled something, on the second day of the Southeastern direct-award franchise…the hour I had with a few fellow commuters, grilling the new Managing Director of Southeastern, David Statham

The important part was in the second part of my write-up where I questioned the PPM figures, and David said:

David: We’re three different sets of performance targets for the govt: seat capacity, delay minutes (in terms of those we cause for ourselves), and cancellations. There are targets within the franchise to deliver those. The new agreement also includes customer satisfaction and how customers feel…

Three sets of performance targets.

PPM isn’t part of them.

So despite failing miserably at them in the last year, they aren’t the actual targets.

So what are the targets?

The actual targets

You can find them in the redacted southeastern franchise document on pages 250-254

They can be broadly classifed as:

  • Cancellation benchmarks (cancellations and partial cancellations for each 4 week reporting period)
  • Capacity benchmarks (were the correct number of carriages being run during ‘Peak’)
  • TOC minute delay benchmarks and Annual TOC minute delay benchmarks (how many total minutes were trains delayed in each reporting period, and how many were attributed to Southeastern)

You’d think that this would be fairly easy data to get on a Freedom of Information Act request wouldn’t you?

Well it is, the Department for Transport have it…however…there are potential exemptions to reveal this information:

  • “section 41 - information provided in confidence”
  • “section 43(2) - commercial interests”

The FOI request and subsequent responses are here

This is the first time an FOI request that I’ve put in has been challenged in this way, so what happens now will be new to me!

It’s worrying that Rail Minister Claire Perry is still quoting PPM in Parliament, when that isn’t a measure of the franchise.

What next?

Two things will happen:

  • London & South Eastern Railway Limited (LSER) - or Southeastern to you and me - have been asked for their views about releasing the requested information
  • the DfT will assess ‘public interest considerations’ against the ‘public interest test’ before releasing the information.

What I’d hope for

In the interests of transparency, and given the frankly abysmal service with received recently, and the PPM targets that haven’t been met, it would be good to see the figures they are actually being assessed again.

So I call on Southeastern/LSER to be positive about releasing the information about their performance as reported to the Secretary of State for Transport, and to provide a level of transparency to all customers about how they’re performing - and whether or not they’ve met the ‘tough targets’ that Claire Perry declared back in September 2014.

I’d equally call on the Department for Transport to consider that this data is in the public interest, given that the monopoly rail service affects the lives of many thousands daily, especially those who have their home and work lives ruined by the delays that they experience.

What can you do?

Talk to your MP, make them aware of this FOI request, and push for this data to be made public

What the group will do

If the figures are published, I’ll do my best to get it up on the site in a digestable form so that we can all make sense of it.

We can only hope…

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UK Govt petition to remove franchise from Southeastern
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