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Rail Services

Volume 497: debated on Thursday 22 October 2009

London Midland has now received 37 new class 350/2 Desiros and retained seven four-car class 321 trains to provide additional capacity. From December there will be five additional Watford peak services to help reduce overcrowding on Northampton trains between Watford and Euston. That has led to an overall improvement in the public performance measure to 90.7 per cent. for the period from 23 August to 19 September 2009, against 86.6 per cent. in the same period last year.

I am grateful for that answer, but is the Minister aware of the local concerns about the urgent need for real, substantial long-term improvements to the train service? There is local anger about the day-to-day management of services, including cancellations, overcrowding and the farcical failure of the train company to get even the announcements on trains right. Will he or one of his colleagues therefore come to Northampton to meet rail users, listen to their concerns and take up the issues of concern to commuters in Northampton?

One of the Secretary of State’s predecessors was in Northampton only in April, but my noble Friend has advised me that if he is in the area he will be happy to meet my hon. Friend and the local rail user group. I assure her that the performance of the train operating company is the subject of regular scrutiny by the performance delivery group, which I chair. We look closely at factors that contribute to any delays or cancellations, whether they are caused by Network Rail or by train operating companies.

East Midlands Trains, which runs to Northampton, also serves Derby. On Sundays it runs only half the services, and journeys take double the time and cost the same. Is that fair for the consumer?

As I made clear earlier, we are the Government who promoted the notion of the seven-day railway, and we will continue to press Network Rail to ensure that wherever possible, it maintains the Sunday timetable to which it is committed.