The rail franchise system is so confusing, no wonder Southeastern mislaid £25m | Jonn Elledge

The government failed to notice millions of taxpayers’ money missing for seven years. Now the company has lost its licence

Here’s what we know for sure. Southeastern, the train operating company (TOC) owned mostly by the UK’s Go-Ahead Group and partly by the French/Canadian Keolis, has been running routes in south-east London, Kent and Sussex since 2006.

Its passenger satisfaction ratings placed it pretty much in the middle of the pack – not great, not terrible – and there were no signs of imminent financial crisis, so none of the usual reasons that TOCs flunk out applied. As recently as Monday there was no reason to think it was in trouble.

Jonn Elledge is a former assistant editor of the New Statesman and the author of The Compendium of (Not Quite) Everything: All the Facts You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Know

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