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Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria the Strategic Rail Authority used in deciding to award the Greater Anglia Franchise to the successful bidder; and what representations he received on that decision. [113096]

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has not yet awarded the Greater Anglia franchise. It issued Invitations to Tender (ITTs) to three bidders—and a consultation document to stakeholders—on 15 April. That followed a process of "Qualification to receive an ITT document", in which applicants were ranked on their responses to a questionnaire.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made on the reopening of (a) the Matlock to Buxton railway line and (b) the Bletchley to Bicester line. [113199]

The Strategic Rail Authority is currently undertaking a feasibility study on the proposal to re-open the Matlock to Buxton line. The study is expected to be completed in two stages. The first stage will look at options to re-instate the link that formerly existed. This is expected to be completed in September 2003. If the partners agree to continue, stage two would develop the preferred option in detail. Stage two will be completed in April 2004. The Strategic Rail Authority is also currently examining the case for reopening the section of line between Bicester and Bletchley for freight and diversionary purposes. This would potentially enable the introduction of passenger services on the eastern section of the route. For these projects to be taken forward, they would have to represent value for money and be affordable.