Rail Franchises (Scotland)
Oral Answers to Questions — Transport
10:30 am

Photo of John Robertson

John Robertson (Glasgow North West, Labour)

What discussions she has had with the Scottish Government on the renewal of rail franchises for services from and to Scotland.

Photo of Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers (The Minister of State, Department for Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)

The Secretary of State has not yet had the opportunity to discuss rail franchising with the Scottish Government, although I have had a number of such meetings. There are also regular contacts on rail franchising between the Department for Transport and Transport Scotland at official level.

Photo of John Robertson

John Robertson (Glasgow North West, Labour)

I thank the Minister for her reply. She will be aware not only of the possibility of a referendum in Scotland, but that the ScotRail franchise comes to an end in 2014. Does she agree that when deciding on a new contract the Scottish Government should consider the fact that ScotRail has had the highest level of customer complaints and a fourfold increase in overcrowding at a time when prices are rising by 6%? Will she note that the company’s boss is a leading Scottish National party supporter and contributor?

Photo of Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers (The Minister of State, Department for Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)

I certainly noted the hon. Gentleman’s concerns about ScotRail. I will take them on board and officials will be happy to raise them with Transport Scotland.

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Stephen Mosley (City of Chester, Conservative)

The west coast main line franchise, which serves the west of Scotland, is up for renewal next year. What consideration have bidders for the franchise been asked to put in place to ensure that no disturbance is caused by the construction of HS2, either at Euston or in the London area during the period of that franchise?

Photo of Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers (The Minister of State, Department for Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)

It will be a very important part of the planning process for the construction of HS2 that every effort is made to minimise the disruption on existing rail networks. Indeed, that is one of the reasons why building a new high-speed rail network is a better option than seeking to eke more capacity out of the existing west coast main line, given the decade of disruption that

passengers suffered on that. There will be an impact on Euston, but a huge amount of effort is going to be put into ensuring that that is minimised.