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South-Eastern Rail Franchise

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:03 pm on 23rd April 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 5:03 pm, 23rd April 2019

I thank my right hon. Friend for those questions. He has been a strong and tenacious champion for rail passengers in his constituency, raising issues with me and speaking in Westminster Hall debates. I share his impatience to get the benefits that are emerging from our franchises to his, and indeed to all, constituents. This is a huge and complex piece of public procurement, and it is right to take the time to make sure we get it right and to finalise this competition. The area is one of the most complex on our network; it has a mix of high-speed and commuter services, with a highly intensive use of infrastructure. I cannot tell him the date on which we will be able to make the announcement. This is a live competition involving market-sensitive information. There is an established method of communication to the House and the markets, so I cannot answer him and am able to say little on that point today.

I can confirm to my right hon. Friend why the east midlands franchise was awarded, with the rail review taking place. That was simply because it was considered that with the east midlands franchise award and this one we could get the benefits to passengers before the work of the rail review came into play. On compensation in respect of the two stations he mentioned, I will look at those carefully. On the point about the compensation following the May 2018 timetable changes, there were some significant problems, but they were not everywhere. The issue was to get the compensation to those who had been most affected. They received compensation that I think was appropriate, but I will check out those two stations and write to him as quickly as possible.