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24.11.15

DfT unveils more details of Passport PQQ and pushes West Coast competition back six months

The Department for Transport has invited operators to apply for its new ‘Passport system’ designed to streamline the competition process for franchises expiring during this Parliament.

The DfT’s Rail Executive hopes the new standardised qualification scheme will encourage applications from new entrants that have an interest in the rail passenger market.

It was based on similar pre-qualification and certification schemes in other parts of the market, aimed at cutting down on the time and money organisations spend providing technical information for multiple franchise competitions.

Any national or international organisation, consortium or not-for-profit organisation can apply as long as it demonstrates necessary managerial, financial and material capabilities to run the specific rail services.

Passport applications will ensure interested organisations all demonstrate capability and technical ability, health and safety management and culture and satisfactory past performance before they are issued pre-qualification questionnaires – at which point they will be assessed financially.

They will be marked on a pass/fail basis, after which they will either receive a Passport or be invited to re-apply later on.

The first franchises to benefit from Passports – which expire within four years – were South Western and West Midlands, whose bidders will be issued specifically-tailored qualification questions by the end of this year.

The next franchise available under the new scheme is Intercity West Coast, whose application date closes on 4 March of next year. That competition has been postponed by several months, according to the latest DfT franchise schedule, with the ITT moved from June to November 2016, and the franchise start date pushed back from September 2017 to April 2018.

Other upcoming franchise competitions set to fall under the scope of the Passport system include East Midlands, Southeastern, Wales & Borders, Great Western, Cross Country and Chiltern.

Interested organisations or partnerships can apply for a Passport by emailing PQQpassport@railexecutive.gsi.gov.uk.

(Top image c. Alvey and Towers)

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