The Department for Transport has named the first transport companies to be awarded a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) passport, enabling them to tender for rail franchises over the next four years without submitting the same information every time.
Arriva UK Trains, First Rail and National Express Trains are among the companies awarded the passport, which is designed to save time and money on the rigorous prequalification process in rail franchising, and encourage new entrants to the market to apply.
The new approach is described by the government as representing “genuine innovation in procurement practice in government for the passenger and taxpayer”.
Applicants are assessed for technical abilities, health and safety, management practices and past performance, as well as finances. If they pass the certification process they receive the passport, which allows them to submit their expression of interest for all future franchise competitions over a four-year period. If they fail they will be invited to re-apply at a later date.
Making the announcement, parliamentary under secretary of state for transport Claire Perry said the companies’ submissions showed “high standards, integrity and professionalism” and will keep the market “fresh and dynamic”.
“This supports the department’s effort to drive innovative customer focused thinking and delivery from operators,” she added.
The remaining eight companies awarded the passport are: Abellio Transport Group; Go-Ahead; Govia; Keolis (UK); MTR Corporation (UK); Stagecoach Group; Trenitalia; and Virgin.
“We can now focus our efforts on managing and negotiating the life-cycle of future franchises, build the necessary long-term industry relationships and continue to encourage parties from the UK and overseas to participate in our marketplace,” Perry added.