Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Question Numbers 160-168)



  160. Are there any dates set?
  (Sir Alastair Morton) No. The next thing that will happen, that has already happened, is that there will be talks with the PTEs collectively and separately, led by Mr Grant, which will establish that we are all trying to achieve the same thing or we are not. If we are not, delay. If we are, go ahead. Go ahead consists of launching an invitation to the private sector to tender for that franchise and specifying what the core proposition of the franchise is and inviting tenders for optional extras if that is what they want, aspirations we call them. Those will come in after a period of weeks stretching into a few months, because that is the time they need to prepare them with a suitable level of expert advice.

  161. I understand the bids are in, they have submitted all the details?
  (Sir Alastair Morton) Not for the new northern franchise, we have not invited tenders. Then we will get to a shortlist and then we will get to a preferred bidder, at which point Ministers have to be satisfied as to what the prospects facing us with that preferred bidder are before we announce it. That is the problem with the East Coast. We get the preferred bidder announced and we then negotiate with the preferred bidder the process that is now happening with Chiltern, which takes time because it is very, very serious money.

  162. When you talk about the northern area, are you talking about the Yorkshire region?
  (Sir Alastair Morton) Yes. The northern franchise carries from East Coast to West Coast.

  163. There have been no submissions so far?
  (Sir Alastair Morton) There has not yet been an invitation to submit.


  164. Sir Alastair, when are you going to publish your plan?
  (Sir Alastair Morton) In November.

  165. This year?
  (Sir Alastair Morton) Yes.

  166. Definitely?
  (Sir Alastair Morton) Subject to the fact that we are not allowed by the law that you passed in this House to publish it without the consent of the Secretary of State.

  167. So we are back to the Secretary of State, but you have such a good relationship, Sir Alastair, that I know we can expect a rapid response.
  (Sir Alastair Morton) I think the Secretary of State is in the habit of consulting the Treasury before he gives such consents.

  168. You have such excellent relationships both with the Secretary of State and with the Treasury that you can expect a rapid response.
  (Sir Alastair Morton) I think you should ask the Treasury about my relationship with them before we make such assumptions.

  Chairman: Perhaps we should do that. Thank you very much.

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