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Inter-city East Coast Franchise

Volume 586: debated on Thursday 23 October 2014

7. How many of the shortlisted bidders for the inter-city east coast franchise are wholly or partly foreign-owned. (905609)

Three bidding companies are taking part in the competition for the inter-city east coast franchise, one of which is partly foreign-owned.

When I last asked the Transport Secretary about this issue on 8 May, he said that the reason Directly Operated Railways would be at a disadvantage and therefore could not take part in the competition was that it was funded through the taxpayer, yet both parts of Keolis-Eurostar are currently majority-owned by the French and UK Governments. What is it about that state-owned company that gives it an edge over our own state-owned company?

I just remember and call to mind the words of the last Transport Secretary under the previous Labour Government, who said that he did

“not believe that it would be in the public interest for us to have a nationalised train operating company indefinitely.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 1 July 2009; Vol. 712, c. 232.]

I agree with those words, which he used when he was last in this office and had responsibility for this issue.