Saturday, 25 August 2012

Transport Committee Request Delay to Signing of West Coast Franchise

The announcement by Theresa Villiers on 15 August to award the West Coast rail franchise to First West Coast Ltd took place during the Parliamentary recess and as a result the Transport Committee haven't had the opportunity to consider the matter.
They have therefore sent the letter below to Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport requesting a delay to the signing of the final West Coast franchise documents.

Transport Committee
House of Commons 7 Millbank London SW1P 3JA
Tel 020 7219 6263 Fax 020 7219 0909 Email Website
From Mrs Louise Ellman MP, Chair
Rt Hon Justine Greening MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Great Minister House
33 Horseferry Road
23 August 2012
Dear Justine,
The announcement by Theresa Villiers on 15 August to award the West Coast rail franchise to First West Coast Ltd has, as you will be aware, generated a great deal of public interest and some concern. It also raises important issues about the basis on which decisions on major rail franchises are made.
As this has taken place during the Parliamentary recess, the Transport Committee has not had an opportunity to consider the matter. I intend to raise it with Committee Members at our first meeting on 4 September and to propose that the Committee explore these issues as soon as possible, provisionally at a public oral evidence session to be arranged for Tuesday 11th September. I expect that some Members will want to ask you about the West Coast franchise when you give oral evidence to us on the work of your Department on the following day.
I understand that the final West Coast franchise documents are due to be signed by the Government on 28 August. I would ask you to consider delaying this for a short while to allow the Transport Committee to explore the matter first. I believe this would help to provide greater transparency and address the concerns that have been raised.
Louise Ellman MP
Chair of the Committee
020 7219 1252

cc Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP, Tony Collins, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Rail Group, Tim O’Toole, Chief Executive, First Group