09 Jan ‘Passports’ for UK Rail Franchises
Companies wishing to bid for train operating franchises in the UK must first complete a prequalification questionnaire (PQQ). If successful, the applicant is awarded a rail franchising ‘passport’ and is able to express interest in future franchise competitions without having to submit the same detailed technical information each time.
A key section of the PQQ addresses Health & Safety Management and Culture and, in order to pass, applicants must score at least 50% (against quite stringent criteria). This ensures that franchise bidders are committed to managing both system safety and occupational health.
To ensure that the evaluation is performed to a consistent standard, DfT applies a structured evaluation methodology and compares its assessments to those of independent experts drawn from an approved panel. Significant differences have to be examined and changes to the assessment ratings must be documented. We were included as health and safety specialists on the panel, as part of a team provided by Direx Solutions, and have evaluated PQQ applications from six organisations to date.
The evaluation is based entirely on the application and half of the organisations failed to demonstrate their ability to manage health and safety to the required standard in their first application. Most organisations were ultimately successful and the list of current passport holders includes several new entrants, in addition to existing franchise holders.