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Great Western Franchise

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 5th March 2015.

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Photo of Duncan Hames Duncan Hames Liberal Democrat, Chippenham 9:30 am, 5th March 2015

When he expects negotiations on the Great Western rail franchise to be completed.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to learn that we expect to conclude negotiations with First Great Western and to finalise the second directly awarded franchise contract during this month, and expect the provision of services to start in September.

Photo of Duncan Hames Duncan Hames Liberal Democrat, Chippenham

I thank the Minister for that news. When I led a group of 10 Members of Parliament from both sides of the House to meet the Secretary of State before Christmas, we urged him to include in the new franchise local services on the existing line between Oxford and Bristol. Does the Minister accept that even a service between Swindon and Bristol would be a great start in relieving overcrowding on that part of the line, and would be a vital first step towards the reopening of the station at Corsham?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The hon. Gentleman continues to make a persuasive business case for that new service. As a Nailsea girl who was lucky enough to go from Nailsea comprehensive to Oxford university, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that it would have been a great service for me. As he knows, the Secretary of State has invited Members whose constituencies are on the route to work with their local authorities and the local enterprise partnership to present a collective business case. He may be right in saying that, as a minimum, a westward service from Swindon would be helpful.