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Volume 497: debated on Tuesday 13 October 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent assessment he has made of progress in the implementation of initiatives to reduce the cost base of the rail network in the north in respect of (a) early electrification, (b) the tram-train trial and (c) measures to replace older diesel rolling stock. (289352)

On 23 July the Government announced a major £1.1 billion programme of rail electrification for the Great Western Main Line from London to Swansea and the line between Liverpool and Manchester via Newton-le-Willows.

Liverpool-Manchester electrification will enable the diesel trains currently operating there to be transferred onto other routes, delivering much needed additional capacity. Many services will be able to operate as six-carriage trains instead of three-carriage trains today. It will also provide an electrified link to the West Coast Main Line, allowing the operation of electric train services from Manchester to Scotland. As a result, the previously planned procurement by the Government of new diesel trains has now been superseded. The Government will publish a new rolling stock plan this autumn, taking account of these changed circumstances.

On 15 September 2009, we announced that the Yorkshire Tram Train Trail was being re-phased with a view to the early introduction of trams between Rotherham and Sheffield using both the Sheffield Supertram Network and Network Rail infrastructure. This project involves South Yorkshire PTE, Network Rail, Northern Trains and the Department for Transport and all partners are working hard to get an early introduction of through trams along the route to demonstrate the benefits of combining heavy and light rail infrastructure.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport with reference to paragraph 16 of the High Level Output Specification Plan Update of July 2008, if he will publish an updated version of the table showing the proposed plan to indicate (a) with which operators, and for how many additional charges contracts have been agreed and (b) with which operators, and for how many additional rail charges, negotiations are still taking place, and what stage these negotiations have reached. (289489)

On 23 July, the Government announced a programme of electrification, including the Great Western Main Line from London to Swansea and the route from Liverpool to Manchester via Newton-le-Willows. This has radically affected future rolling stock requirements, as there will be far less need for diesel trains. A new rolling stock plan will be published in the autumn setting out a revised strategy for rolling stock requirements.

To date the Department for Transport has procured 550 additional vehicles for the following routes: West Coast, Chiltern, London Midland, First Capital Connect, Southeastern, South Central, and National Express East Anglia.