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Tim to grill bidders for West Coast mainline franchise to ensure passengers to get a fair deal

January 23, 2012 1:35 PM

Tim Farron MP & Cllr Andy Shine at Oxenholme StationFollowing the Government's Invitation to Tender, published on Friday, for the bidding stage to replace the current operator on the West Coast Main Line, South Lakes MP Tim Farron has called on the Government to ensure that that all potential bidders put the interests of passengers first. He is also inviting all the potential bidders to meet him and local railway activists so that he can grill them on their plans. Tim intends to then give backing to whichever bidder offers south Lakes the best deal.

The Invitation to Tender said the new franchise would run until March 2026 in line with the planned introduction of HS2. The announcement also included information about increased capacity with plans to introduce 106 new Pendolino carriages as part of the franchise which can carrying an additional 28,000 seats each day.

However, several organisations including the Rail union RMT have expressed serious concerns about the guidelines for bidders set out in the tender document, which they say could allow train operators to cut and reduce services to maximise profits.

Other concerns revolve around the increased flexibility over timetabling which will give the winning bidder more control within a required number of weekly stops at stations to cater for variations in daily demand - meaning some days will see more stops, taken from other, less busy days.

Commenting this morning Tim said: "The fact that there is a risk that train operators could be given the opportunity to increase prices while decreasing services is a big worry. I urge the Government to ensure that the successful bidder pledges not to do this. That's why I am also taking matters in to my own hands - I am prepared to back the bidder who offers the best deal for our area.

"What we need from the new franchise that will take us forward to the launch of HS2 in 2026 is assurances that the promised increased capacity will be delivered and that operators will do all they can to keep rail fares down and to put passengers first."