§ Mr. Hill
In considering proposals for franchise replacement the Instructions and Guidance given to the Chief Executive of the Strategic Rail Authority by the Deputy Prime Minister ask him to give due weight to performance, customer services, innovation, investment and efficiency, the extent to which passengers will be given a greater voice in the level and standard of services and affordability and value for money for the taxpayer. The Authority provides the actual evaluation criteria to prequalified parties for each replacement franchise.
§ Mr. Moore
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when his Department expects to receive the Strategic Rail Authority's recommendations concerning the awarding of the East Coast main line rail franchise; and what are the reasons for the delay announced on 14 February. 
§ Mr. Hill
On 14 February the Strategic Rail Authority announced a pause in the franchise replacement process for the Inter City East Coast replacement franchise as a result of increased cost estimates for upgrading the East Coast main line provided by Railtrack.
Prior to that date, the Secretary of State was considering a request from the SRA for a direction, under section 26 of the Railways Act 1993, which would allow it to choose a preferred bidder for this replacement franchise. The SRA has now asked the Secretary of State to delay further consideration of whether to grant such a direction until it has discussed the issue of cost estimates with Railtrack and taken a view on any implications for the replacement process.