South-Eastern Rail Franchise DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Joseph JohnsonMain Page: Joseph Johnson (Conservative) - Orpington)
Department Debates - View all Joseph Johnson's debates with the Department for Transport
The hon. Lady makes the point about whether franchising is dead; no, it is not, because of course we managed to award a franchise only in the week before Easter recess. As a process, then, franchising is working. Can we get the benefits out to passengers as fast as possible? That is of course what it is all about, but these are complex questions and it is appropriate that we take our time to get it right. On the number of compliant bids, the issue of pensions obviously attracted a lot of attention in respect of the east midlands bid. We have two pension-compliant bids for the south-eastern franchise and look forward to making the announcement as soon as we possibly can.
I thank my hon. Friend for that question. I share his enthusiasm for the access-for-all process and the recent announcement of extra funds and where those funds will be targeted by the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani). I can tell him that design work on the stations selected will be starting over the summer, with construction as soon as possible thereafter. I know that he is anxious for the benefits to serve his constituents. So am I and so is the Under-Secretary of State, who I know is listening. She has indicated that she would be very happy to meet him to take the matter forward.