We do have to think about much more flexibility across our railway, as well as greater accessibility for people from not only every walk of life, but all different localities, as some facilities are not as they should be.
Some industry commentators have said that the Secretary of State accepted rail franchise bids that were excessive and unrealistic. Can he confirm that winning bids are accepted in the expectation that they will be paid in full? Does he anticipate that the premium payments on the South Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Northern and TransPennine Express franchises will be made in full? Several other franchises look vulnerable in the light of the east coast decision. Passenger growth is slowing across the railway amid weaker consumer confidence, rising fares and changing work patterns. Rail passenger usage has fallen for consecutive reporting periods, and that has included a stark decline in season ticket purchases, which are the core business of rail companies. The fact that passengers are being priced off the railway is threatening the sustainability of the network as a whole.