§ Mr. Clifton-Brown
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what discussions his Department has had with(a) the Strategic Rail Authority and (b) Railtrack regarding the Virgin cross country upgrade, as outlined in the 2001 Network Management Statement Part 1, Chapter 9, page 13. 
§ Mr. Jamieson
Improving the quality of our rail system and increasing its use, by both passengers and freight, is an integral part of our 10 Year Plan for Transport. The Plan aims to deliver improvements across all modes of transport, at national, regional and local levels.
Achieving our target of increasing rail passenger patronage by 50 per cent. by 2010, and rail freight by up to 80 per cent., would help to relieve the growing pressure on our roads, and contribute to the reductions in congestion and pollution that the Plan envisages.
At the regional level, the Government's guidance on Regional Transport Strategies emphasises the importance of integration in supporting more sustainable travel choices. The programme of multi-modal studies currently under way, covering most of our main transport corridors and bottlenecks, is also taking an integrated approach and examining a full range of possible solutions in each case. The programme for replacement and extension of existing rail franchises invites bidders to offer proposals for local and regional integration, and the draft Directions and Guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority reinforce this aim. The Rail Passenger Partnership scheme also exists to provide financial support for local and regional initiatives to improve integration of rail with other modes.
§ Mr. Jamieson
Diversionary routes are clearly important in providing alternatives where disruption occurs. Franchise agreements require train operating companies to use all reasonable endeavours to provide alternative transport where services cannot run as advertised, for which diversionary routes are one possible solution.