§ Mr. Jenkin
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Strategic Rail Authority first asked him to confirm its recommendation of its preferred bidder for the East Coast Main Line franchise; and when he will announce his decision. 
§ Mr. Hill
[holding answer 12 March 2001]: The Franchising Director made his initial recommendation on the East Coast Main Line franchise on 8 December 2000, which we have been considering. The Strategic Rail Authority announced a pause in the replacement process for this franchise on 14 February, which it subsequently lifted on 2 March. A decision will be announced in due course.