Agreement in principle was reached with the Welsh Government last year that they would be given a combination of statutory executive franchising functions within Wales, and agency powers of the Secretary of State in relation to the English component of the franchise, in order that that they could procure and manage a new franchise of similar geographic scope, while ensuring the Secretary of State’s accountability for rail operations within England.
In order to facilitate the timely progression of the Welsh Government’s procurement, the Secretary of State entered into the first of a planned series of agency agreements with Welsh Ministers in October last year. Each agreement will set out relevant conditions to protect the Secretary of State’s interests in the English component of the franchise (including the English component of cross-border services). The Government also continues to progress the transfer of functions Order to give effect to the transfer to Welsh Ministers of executive franchising functions in Wales.
The Department is actively and constructively engaging with Welsh Government to both protect the Secretary of State’s interests and enable them to achieve a successful procurement of the next Wales & Borders franchise from October 2018.