10. What recent assessment he has made of East Coast Main Line Ltd’s financial performance. (900953)
My officials regularly meet representatives of East Coast Main Line and Directly Operated Railways to discuss the performance of the franchise. DOR’s financial accounts are published on its website annually. On 24 October, I announced the start of the competition for a new private sector partner for InterCity East Coast and published a prospectus for the East Coast Main Line business, which included an assessment of its financial performance.
I thank the Secretary of State for his answer. Will he confirm that while German, Dutch and French railway companies will be allowed to tender for the new franchise, a successful British company that is currently operating the franchise will not be allowed to do so?
I refer the right hon. Lady back to the time when she was a supporting member of the previous Government, when the then Secretary of State said:
“I do not believe that it would be in the public interest for us to have a nationalised train operating company indefinitely…because of our recent experience on rail franchising”.—[Official Report, House of Lords, 1 July 2009; Vol. 712, c. 232.]
Rail franchising has led to the biggest growth in rail usage in this country that we have ever seen—up from 750 million to 1.5 billion passenger journeys. I want that improvement to continue, and that is why huge investment is going into the east coast main line.
12. The publicly run east coast main line franchise will have returned £800 million to the taxpayer by the end of this financial year, and all its profits are reinvested in the service. Why are the coalition Government privatising this successful public operator, given that the previous two private operators failed? (900955)
As I pointed out to the right hon. Member for Stirling (Mrs McGuire), I am following the policies that have taken the rail industry from 750 million to 1.5 billion passenger journeys. I am happy to speak for the passengers and for all the people who work on the railways; it seems as though Labour Members are happy to speak just for the union barons. They can speak for the barons; I will speak for the workers, the consumers and the people who use our railways.