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East Coast rail franchise move looks back on track
7:55am Saturday 12th January 2013 in News
PLANS to refranchise the East Coast Mainline look set to get back on track after an independent review of Government strategy recommended sticking with franchising.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin asked Richard Brown, chairman of Eurostar, to conduct a thorough investigation into how the government should manage its franchising programme following the cancellation of the InterCity West Coast competition last year.
Mr Brown has concluded that franchising is “not broken”, but recommended the bidding and evaluation process for each franchise should be strengthened and simplified.
York-based East Coast is currently nationalised, but is due to be franchised again. However, York Central MP Hugh Bayley said last autumn that bidding for the franchise should be stopped while the Government takes the opportunity to compare private and public sector running of railways.
York council leader Coun James Alexander welcomed Mr Brown’s report, saying he would now carefully consider the implications for York.
He said: “Restarting franchising will provide a clear way forward for the East Coast franchise, this dovetails with the work we are pushing forward, alongside fellow local authorities in the East Coast Mainline Group, to build the wider business case for further investment to significantly improve its capacity, reliability and connectivity.”