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Rail Passengers Council

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): The Future of Rail White Paper (Command Paper 6233) published in July 2004, announced the intention to reform the Rail Passengers Council. As part of that process, I had recently appointed the current chairman of the RPC, Stewart Francis, as chairman of the new RPC for the remainder of his current term of office. This was due to be announced shortly alongside other new RPC board appointments.

Unfortunately, because of ill health, Stewart Francis has resigned from his position as Chair of the new RPC. I understand and support his decision. I am therefore writing today to Stewart Francis accepting his resignation from both his current appointment as chairman of the RPC and his recent appointment as chairman of the new RPC. Stewart has been the key architect of the organisation's reform and his contribution over the last year in particular has been vital. His involvement in the RPC network and advocacy on behalf of rail passengers over the last eight years must also be commended. I wish him well for the future.

I am still expecting the new RPC to come into existence in July and I shall keep the House informed of further developments as we continue to implement the proposals set out in the White Paper.