I am pleased to inform the House that my Department has published its refreshed programme for rail franchising. Through this my Department is setting out an ambitious plan for new rail franchises that will give passengers high-quality rail services.
It is making it clear to the whole rail industry that competition for rail franchises is the best way to secure services for passengers at good value for the taxpayer.
Through our plan for the railways we are making journeys better for everyone—we are reducing crowding, cutting journey times and improving trains and stations across the country. This supports our regional economies, creating jobs and opportunities and connecting people to business.
During this Parliament my Department has already delivered the new Northern and TransPennine Express franchises which will oversee a massive £1.2 billion private-sector investment in our rail services. This includes hundreds of brand-new modem trains, thousands more seats, more services. Together this will deliver a modern, 21st century service for passengers, help to close the economic gap between north and south and help bring the northern powerhouse to life. We expect to continue to deliver similar results for our upcoming franchise competitions.
Private sector competition is good for passengers, local communities and taxpayers. That is why as part of our latest schedule we have started the competition for new franchises for the Intercity West Coast, East Anglia, South Western, East Midlands and West Midlands. I am confident that, through these franchises we will deliver the rail network this country needs.
I am placing a copy of the franchising schedule in the Libraries of the House.