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Railways

Volume 454: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to investigate the feasibility of establishing new railway stations in areas of significant growth in residential housing in the east of England; and if he will make a statement. (107666)

The Department for Transport will consider any proposals for new stations associated with new developments. Any proposal would require an approved business case and agreement with Network Rail that additional stops on the route could be accommodated. In the majority of cases, it would be expected that third parties would fund the costs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the connection arrangements will be for West Coast Main Line passengers wishing to travel on to European destinations by Eurostar trains from November 2007. (106610)

Virgin Trains are currently in discussions with Eurostar with a view to offering integrated ticketing to West Coast Main Line passengers wishing to travel onto European destinations, and vice versa. There will also be appropriate signage and directions in place for passengers wishing to interchange between Euston and St. Pancras stations, either on foot, by public transport or by taxi.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions his Department has had with Network Rail on the restoration of the direct rail link between Skipton and Colne. (106841)

The Department has had no discussions with Network Rail on the restoration of a direct rail link between Colne and Skipton.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how his Department has taken account of EU procurement rules in retaining the services of a company to act as an operator of the last resort in the event of franchise failure. (106993)

The Strategic Rail Authority awarded a contract in July 2004 to procure specialist advice in connection with “Operator of Last Resort” activity following a competition under one of its framework agreements. The framework agreement was let in full compliance with EU procurement rules. The contract was subsequently transferred to the Department in July 2005 when it assumed the authority's responsibilities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department employs (a) consultancies and (b) other companies on a regular basis to provide advice on the Department's responsibility when acting as an operator of the last resort in the event of franchise failure. (106994)

The Department has a retainer-based contract with First Class Partnerships relating to the procurement of specialist advice in connection with the Secretary of State's duties as “Operator of Last Resort”. It also procures other external specialist advice as and when necessary.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department pays a retainer to companies to act as an operator of the last resort in the event of franchise failure; and if he will make a statement. (106999)

The Department has a retainer-based contract with one company—First Class Partnerships—relating to the procurement of specialist advice in connection with the Secretary of State's duties as “Operator of Last Resort”.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what basis he has agreed rail fare increases in the next calendar year; whether such rises were factored into recent franchise negotiations; and if he will link future fare increases to the rate of inflation. (107583)

Rail fares are set by train operators, not by Government. Fares which are regulated must be set within the limits laid down by fares regulation, which restricts annual average increases to inflation + 1 per cent. Other fares are a commercial matter for the operator concerned. Bids for franchises will take into account both the restrictions imposed by fares regulation and the bidders’ views of how the train service can best be developed, priced and marketed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the socio-economic profile of passenger use of the railways and its effects on the structuring of fares. (107584)

The Department for Transport’s National Rail Travel Survey has collected data on who uses the railways, where, when and for what purposes. The survey was completed last year and covered rail travel across Great Britain. The results will be available early in 2007 and will enable some socio-economic analysis of rail users.