Railways: Franchises

Department for Transport written question – answered on 9th May 2019.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the likelihood of all the rail franchises in England and Wales being held by companies owned and controlled in other countries; and whether they consider such a situation to be desirable.

Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of rail franchises currently in operation are held, in whole or in part, by companies wholly or partly owned by foreign governments; and what percentage of total ownership of rail franchises this represents.

Photo of Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Ownership by non-UK governments accounts for 29% of the DfT-managed franchise market (based on notional share of passenger revenues during 2017/18). This calculation excludes train operators other than DfT-managed franchisees.

All franchise bidders and operators are required to be UK tax registered firms, registered with Companies House and at arms-length from owners. Train operating companies pay tax here in the UK and, most importantly, have been awarded franchises through open competitions precisely because they offer the best deal for UK passengers and taxpayers. Private sector franchisees continue to support key investments to improve services to passengers, including expanded car parking provision, station upgrades, and major new train fleets.

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