On 1 March this year, the Department announced the three companies that are shortlisted to bid for the next east midlands franchise. A public consultation will be held in due course, followed by the publication of the invitation to tender and the stakeholder briefing document.
I welcome that answer. In the context of my hon. Friend’s work on the franchise, can he reassure me and my constituents that when the new franchise is awarded we will see new, modern rolling stock capable of operating on diesel and electric lines on that route, as well as later services and Sunday services operating on the popular local Ivanhoe line?
My hon. Friend is quite right to campaign on behalf of the Ivanhoe line and of his constituents. I hope that all Members of Parliament across the east midlands will contribute to the consultation and make it clear what they want to see in the new franchise. We look forward to reading their responses to the consultation.
May I press the Minister again on that point? When the franchise is let, the HSTs are going to be phased out, having reached the end of their very long lives, and will need to be replaced. Will they be replaced with hybrid trains that will not have to be changed again when the midland main line is eventually electrified?
The hon. Gentleman will have to forgive me for making a somewhat elliptical response. We are continuing to look at the options for rolling stock on that route, working closely with the current franchisee and other bidders for the franchise. We hope to make an announcement in due course.