To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what improvements are in his Department's present plans for rail services between Portsmouth and London.
Rail services between Portsmouth and London are at present operated by Network SouthEast's south western division. We announced in February of this year that the south western division is to be one of the first franchises to be offered to the private sector. We expect the franchise to start some time in 1995. We believe that giving the private sector the opportunity to operate existing services and introduce new ones is the best way to bring about the improvements to services which passengers want.