§ Lord Gray of Contin
asked Her Majesty's Government:
When they expect to announce their conclusions on the future of British Rail Maintenance Ltd.
The Earl of Caithness
The British Railways Board has now completed its review of options for the future of British Rail Maintenance Ltd. (BRML) and Level 5 Group which carries out maintenance of trains. The board has recommended that the BRML depots at Eastleigh, Doncaster, Wolverhampton and Glasgow, and the Level 5 Group depots at Chart Leacon and Ilford together with electronic repair centres at Swindon and Eastleigh should be offered for sale as soon as possible. We share the board's view that selling these businesses will be in the best interest of the railway and the workforce, and consistent with our proposals for reform of the railway industry.
The board is considering how best to invite offers for these businesses. The aim is to be ready to invite offers by next Spring, and to complete the sale as soon as possible after that.57WA
The British Railways Board and their advisers will develop plans for the sale but they will need the approval of the Secretary of State for Transport.
We commend the progress made by the BRML and Level 5 Group management and workforce towards improving on financial targets and on the turnround times for vehicles to meet customer needs. We believe that there would be a better future for these maintenance businesses in the private sector. Once in the private sector, the BRML and Level 5 Group will have greater freedom to diversify and compete for work outside the railway supply industry, to the benefit of employees.
We have also considered the future of the maintenance depots which undertake lighter maintenance of passenger trains. These depots will he treated differently. Subject to Royal Assent to the Railways Bill, we propose that the freehold of such depots should rest with Railtrack and that they should be leased to train operating companies, franchisees or independent depot operators. The Railways Bill provides for rights of access to, and regulation of, light maintenance depots.