Patrick McLoughlin (The Secretary of State for Transport; Derbyshire Dales, Conservative)
On Friday, 21 March 2014, I published the invitation to tender (ITT) for the InterCity East Coast franchise. This marks the next step in the formal competition to find a new private sector partner to run passenger rail services on the east coast main line.
I have also published the InterCity East Coast stakeholder briefing document, which provides an update to the InterCity East Coast consultation summary report published in October 2013.
The ITT asks bidders to set out detailed proposals on what improvements for passengers they will deliver and how they will build on the multi-billion pound investment planned for the east coast main line and should they win the franchise. The invitation to tender includes:
the requirement to introduce the new world-class fleet of trains from the inter-city express programme;
continuation of services to all current destinations;
faster, more frequent services to/from King’s Cross by May 2020;
faster average journey times to Leeds and Edinburgh from May 2020;
the potential for improved services to destinations such as Lincoln;
an opportunity for bidders to serve five new routes including Huddersfield, Scarborough, Harrogate (via York), Middlesbrough and Sunderland (via Newcastle); and
a fund that will drive innovation for passengers and deliver long-term benefits for the franchise and wider rail industry.
It is anticipated that the successful bidder will be announced in November and that the new franchise will start in March 2015 and run for eight years and four weeks, with a possible one year extension callable at my sole discretion.
Services along the east coast main line are set to be transformed over the coming years through £240 million worth of investment which will improve reliability and boost capacity for passengers and freight. The route will also benefit from the Government’s £5.8 billion inter-city express programme, which is set to deliver a new fleet of state-of-the-art trains which will improve journey times and deliver a boost to the customer experience.
· Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 24 March 2014, c7WS)
In response, Lincoln’s Member of Parliament, Karl McCartney MP, said: “I have worked very hard since my election to Parliament, and in the years that preceded it, to ensure that all Lincoln’s transport issues are addressed: one of those being more direct and fast trains between Lincoln and our Capital City. Whilst I welcome the progress that has been made in addressing these issues under our Conservative-led Government and that the Invitation To Tender recognises the potential for improved services to destinations such as Lincoln, I would have preferred the ITT to explicitly specify more direct services to Lincoln.
“Nevertheless, I am currently corresponding and meeting with each of the three bidders that have been shortlisted by the Government to run the East Coast Main Line between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross, and deliver proposals for improved services for passengers on the InterCity East Coast rail franchise. I have already impressed on the bidders the importance of direct train services to my City of Lincoln Constituents and the people of Lincolnshire and that we should use new, UK-built high-tech trains, to improve line capacity and reduce journey times to the benefit of all passengers on the East Coast Main Line.
“I shall take every opportunity to continue to do so during the months ahead and I am pleased that at least Lincoln was mentioned specifically by the Secretary of State for Transport in his Statement .”
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For further information, please contact Karl McCartney MP at firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7219 7221.