South East Flexible Ticketing Programme

I’ve spent the last year developing a dataset of lessons learned and case studies from around the world. A significant number of these have been the product of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. I’d like to share some of the findings from these reviews so that everyone can learn from them.

Oyster cardThe first case study is on the South East Flexible Ticketing Programme. You may have used the Oyster Card in London before. This programme was intended to introduce something similar for train services across the Southeast of England. Hence, the reason for these machines popping up at train stations across the region. I have one at my local station, but there is no facility to use it.

The SEFT Programme will now deliver under half of the TOC scope in DfT’s Outline Business Case of June 2014, due to the difficulties of the initial years 2012 – 2014. None of the key milestones identified initially in 2012 were met to plan”.

When the Oyster Card was introduced it provided a significant discount over paper tickets, which helped to drive up customer participation. There was no such incentivisation for the Train Operating Companies. This was the origin of a series of challenges that began to spiral out of control.

DfT spent £54 million on the Programme, compared with the original budget of £45 million. In April 2016, the Department estimated that it would cost a total of £96 million to deliver the full scope of the Programme as set out in the 2014 business case.

The NAO investigated the programme and a summary can be found at this link. It makes for fascinating reading, but lacks the forensic insight to ensure that people are able to leverage the experience acquired and prevent similar situations arising in the future.

When I read the report I noted that it made reference to a lessons learned study. I submitted a FOI request to gain access to this study but the request was rejected. I appealed and finally got hold of the report. I’ve included a copy of this report here: SEFT Lessons Learned – Redacted. It provides an excellent case study. It is a lengthy read so I have tried to summarise the key lessons in the following case study: Case Study South East Flexible Ticketing Programme. I hope that you find it useful.

At the Conservative Party conference in 2017 (a week after I wrote the case study) the Transport Minister announced new money of £80m to fund a programme to introduce flexible ticketing across the UK. It will be interesting to see if this 3rd instalment will be successful. The odds appear stacked against successful delivery.

This is on example where a programme has not gone to plan and experience should be leveraged for those who follow. Not just those who implement successor programmes, but programmes which have synergies in terms of delivery challenges, environment or complexities in the supply chain. We can’t afford to do otherwise.

No longer should these reports be buried inside of government. They should be shared for the good of society so that everyone can benefit from them.