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Intercity Express Programme

Volume 457: debated on Thursday 8 March 2007

My Department has today initiated the procurement of a new fleet of trains for the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) by issuing a notice to the market through the Official Journal of the European Union.

The IEP will develop a new fleet to replace the current high speed train. This is a project that complements this summer's high level output specification, looking at the railways in the next control period, and the longer term framework for the railways. The new fleet will improve capacity and reliability and meet increasing passenger requirements. It will also deliver improved energy efficiency, reduce emissions and ensure flexibility of train deployment so that future demand and environmental requirements will be met.

This is the most significant rolling stock programme in the UK for over 30 years. My Department has received widespread input from the rail industry and passenger groups in setting this specification. However, it will be the rail industry rather than my Department who will be designing this train.

The Department is expecting to commission between 500 and 2,000 new vehicles, with deployment subject to costs and value. This fleet will be introduced across the network from 2014, and can expect to operate for 30 years. A "pre-series" batch of the trains will be introduced first, to test the new train in an operational environment before production of the full fleet begins. It is likely these pre-series trains will be deployed on the East Coast Main Line from 2012.

The total cost of the programme will be dependent on the bids that my Department receives from interested parties, and the final number of vehicles purchased. I will continue to update the House on this and other information as this long-term project develops.