Today I have published the intercity east coast prospectus, pre-qualification documents and submitted for publication an Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) notice. These steps mark the start of the formal competition to find a new private sector partner to run passenger rail services on intercity east coast. The prospectus explains the current business as it stands today and sets out the opportunities it presents to a new operator. It also provides some indications of how we will be specifying intercity east coast when we release the invitation to tender (ITT) which is planned for February 2014. The prospectus will provide potential applicants with a large amount of information that will help them decide whether they can be the right partner for this vital and historic railway.
I am also publishing the intercity east coast consultation summary report that brings together the responses we received to the consultation conducted in 2012. This report is being published now to enable those who responded to the consultation; potential bidders for the franchise; and other interested parties to see the key concerns and issues raised in advance of the publication of the ITT.
We have seen great improvements on our railways since privatisation, with unprecedented growth in passenger numbers and the best safety record in Europe, and this Government are committed to the principle that partnership between the public and private sector works. We want to further strengthen our partnership with the private sector and continue to build on this growth so as to deliver world-class railways for passengers and best value for the taxpayer. Private sector partnership on this route will deliver, among other things, the investment in the design, build and maintenance contract for the new class 800/801 trains procured through the intercity express programme.
I am confident that through the partnership approach the Department for Transport is taking, combined with the skills, investment and innovation of the private sector, we can deliver a new railway for the intercity east coast, one that meets the Secretary of State’s three objectives for franchising across the network: that the passenger gains; the industry thrives; and the taxpayer benefits.