§ Mr. Drew
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will investigate the rail franchise situation in the South West and Wessex in order to seek to clarify the operating strategy; 
(2) if he will list the bidders for rail franchises in the South West and Wessex areas. 
§ Mr. Jamieson
As part of its revised franchising programme, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) announced that it would be looking at the longer term benefits of combining franchises, in particular where two or more operators share access to a London terminal. Accordingly, it is considering combining the Great Western and Thames franchises in 2006. The SRA launched a consultation on its proposals, and the future of the Wessex franchise, on 12 March.
The SRA has signed Heads of Terms with Stagecoach for a new South West Trains franchise of up to 20 years.