How the end of the rail franchise system will affect Britain’s trains

The government says its rescue deal is the biggest shake-up of the industry in 25 years

Since privatisation a train operator’s profit or loss broadly depended on how many passengers they carried. Normal franchise agreements were suspended in March, when the government told people not to travel because of coronavirus. Virtually all rail companies would have defaulted or gone bust under existing contracts this year. Those emergency deals expired on Sunday night, and have been succeeded by transitional “recovery” contracts, or Ermas, while the exact shape of the future rail system is thrashed out.

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