HC Deb 08 July 1996 vol 281 cc75-6W
Mrs. Ann Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research he has commissioned into the number of stops by intercity trains which were removed from the timetable by British Rail during the three months prior to the award of franchises for the private sector operation of services which would otherwise have stopped at those stations; and if he will make a statement. [35884]

Mr. Watts

We have not commissioned research. For train operating companies which are subsidiaries of the British Railways Board, timetable changes are a matter for the board.

For franchised services, the franchising director develops a contractually binding passenger service requirement based on the British Rail timetable in operation at the time the PSR is drawn up. He is not minded to include in PSRs services that are not being provided in the British Rail timetable. The PSR is subject to consultation with local authorities and rail users consultative committees.

In specifying the PSR, the franchising director has regard to the need to protect vulnerable services, to give franchisees flexibility to plan service provision for commercial services, and to provide value for money. He takes into account the commitments of bidders to provide timetabled services over and above the PSR when assessing franchise bids.

Mrs. Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will review the instructions given to the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising to ensure in future that the minimum service requirements established through passenger service requirements which he issues through the franchising process are based upon the established pattern of activity by British Rail InterCity services and discount any cessation of services made in the immediate run-up to the franchise being issued. [35883]

Mr. Watts

The franchising director's existing objectives, instructions and guidance require that, when setting service levels for services being franchised for the first time, he should take as his starting point the service being provided by British Rail at the time when the specification is drawn up. This does not preclude the inclusion in the passenger service requirement of services which have previously been withdrawn by British Rail. Local rail users are free to press for the inclusion of such services in the service requirement during the period of public consultation which the franchising director undertakes for each franchise.