UK: The Department for Transport announced on December 15 that 11 transport companies had been awarded Pre-Qualification Questionnaire Passports, which have been designed to make it easier and quicker to bid for passenger franchises by removing the need to for potential bidders to complete 'resource-intensive' sections of the pre-qualification questionnaire each time they wish to express an interest in a franchise competition.

Companies with the Passport will provide the PQQ information once and it will then remain valid for up to four years.

The passport holders include established players in the UK passenger rail market, and also Italian national passenger operator Trenitalia. Serco, which operates the Caledonian Sleeper and has stakes in the current Merseyrail and Northern Rail franchisees, is not listed.

'The award of the first PQQ Passports is a fantastic step forward that will not only benefit bidders, but taxpayers and customers too', said Rail Minister Claire Perry. 'It will give applicants time and resource to improve their bids, while reducing the administrative burden on the Department. Simplifying this process will help open up the market to more bidders and improve competition on our railways, which is ultimately great news for customers.'

Organisations awarded PQQ Passports

  • Abellio Transport Group
  • Arriva UK Trains
  • First Rail Holdings
  • Go-Ahead Holding
  • Govia
  • Keolis (UK)
  • MTR Corp (UK)
  • National Express Trains
  • Stagecoach Group
  • Trenitalia
  • Virgin Holdings