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Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received from passenger train operating companies regarding fare increases on recently awarded franchises. (82502)

The Department for Transport has received no representations from train operating companies regarding fares increases on recently awarded franchises.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether additional premium payments made to the Government by rail franchises under agreements reached since 2005 will be (a) returned to the Consolidated Fund and (b) made available to his Department for spending on transport. (82318)

All premium payments received from rail franchises are appropriated in aid by the Department and the funds are made available for spending on transport.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to introduce high-speed rail links between Edinburgh and London. (82010)

The Government have a manifesto commitment to look at the feasibility and affordability of a new north-south high-speed link. The Government have committed to take this forward in the development of a long-term strategy for the railways, drawing on Sir Rod Eddington’s advice on the long-term impact of transport decisions on the UK’s productivity, stability and growth.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when his Department first learned of First train operator’s plans to stop recognising cheap day returns between 4.30 pm and 7.00 pm on Mondays to Fridays; and if he will make a statement. (82304)

[holding answer 4 July 2006]: First Group’s bid for the Thameslink/Great Northern franchise included a proposal to restrict the use of day return fares during the evening peak on certain routes. They did not give the Department any advance notification of the date they intended to implement the proposal. However, day returns are unregulated fares and it is for operators to decide whether to offer them and, if so at what price and with what restrictions.