My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Ruth Kelly) has made the following Ministerial Statement.
I have today laid before Parliament a policy statement on the exercise of my powers in relation to passenger rail franchising under Section 26(1) of the Railways Act 1993. Amendments to that act made by the Railways Act 2005, which transferred certain franchising functions of the Strategic Rail Authority to the Secretary of State, require me to publish a statement of policy about how I propose to exercise my powers under Section 26(1).
The statement sets out how I intend to award rail franchises in future, which is by means of competitive tender wherever possible. The statement also sets out those circumstances in which it is likely that an invitation to tender will not be issued, and clarifies those circumstances where a franchise agreement may be extended.
Copies of the statement have been made available in the Libraries of the House.