Initially, the government suspended the rail network to maintain operations due to declining passenger demand due to the COVID 19 pandemic, but on September 21, 2020, the rail franchising policy was abandoned. Emergency agreements (which effectively convert franchises into concessions) will be maintained until they pass legislation to replace the system, which is likely to be a permanent concession system, as is already the case in some urban areas.   In February 2002, the Chiltern franchise was the first franchisee for a 20-year term, the winner being Chiltern Railways, the franchisee established since privatization.  The coalition government, elected in May 2010, halted the re-franchise pending a revision published in January 2011. As a result, they continued to reform the system to increase operator flexibility, with greater incentives for operators to reduce costs and to pay-as-you-go conditions to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. They increased the standard duration of deductibles to 15 to 22.5 years (with shorter maturities, if that is appropriate), ended the “cap” and “collar” approach to risk, which provided for risk sharing with the government with respect to future demand, and the introduction of incentive and verification points. The new system, which will initially be applied with InterCity West Coast`s offer, has also taken a less prescriptive approach to service specialization and has introduced measures to combat crowds and changes in the way quality measurement has been addressed. Due to the increased future risks borne by operators, the government demanded great financial security in order to avoid premature contract failure.    On 20 September, the first emergency agreements expired and, in most cases, were replaced by emergency aid agreements (ErMAs) lasting between six and eighteen months.
As part of these appropriations, the Department of Transportation continues to collect revenues and bear the bulk of the costs of railways.  There are a few exceptions to the standard model: Initial management contracts came into effect on July 22, 2002 and would see the West Coast franchise supported by the SRA until March 2003, and if no agreement was reached by then on new franchise terms, the management contract would continue for a 2% royalty of the turnover.