We have agreed with Network Rail that it will make up to £50 million available in the near future to tackle improvements at the 10 key stations identified in the stations champions report as being in most need of improvement, seven of which are in the north-west.
Will my hon. Friend remind Network Rail from time to time that the overall experience of train travel includes not just the journey itself, but arrival at and passage through the stations? Some of our stations in the north-west have been badly neglected in recent years. Victoria station in Manchester is to be significantly upgraded as a result of actions by the Department, which is welcome news, but will my hon. Friend ensure that a programme of improvement is implemented in all our stations in the north-west?
I assure my hon. Friend that there are a number of Government initiatives committed to station improvements. They include the national stations improvement programme, a five-year initiative worth £150 million for the modernisation of approximately 150 medium-sized stations, and—in the north-west—a £1.5 million upgrade of Ormskirk station, to which £500,000 has been contributed by the national stations improvement programme. The Access for All 10-year programme, worth £370 million, will improve access to stations, and the Access for All small schemes fund will enable more than 1,000 stations to benefit from about £6 million a year.
Manchester Victoria is a potential candidate for the national stations improvement programme funding. The planned improvements include cleaning and redecorating passenger seating—
Order. I am extremely grateful to the Minister, but we must make timely progress down the Order Paper.
At Macclesfield station there is an overbridge leading to the London platform. The steps up and the steps down ought to be fully enclosed, because those seeking access to the London platform can get absolutely soaked. Will the Minister attend to that, in order to ensure that a station that is a major profit centre is properly equipped for all who need access to the London platform?
I am sure that the train operating company that runs services through Macclesfield station will want to ensure that the environment is as pleasant as possible in order to attract as many passengers as possible to the service. Yesterday I was able to inaugurate the opening of a bridge at Southampton airport station which has received £2 million from the Government under the Access for All programme, and it did indeed include a very nicely covered bridge.
I was pleased to note that Liverpool Central station features on the list of stations to be improved, but has my hon. Friend seen the report “Better Rail Stations”, which was recently submitted to the Secretary of State by Chris Green and Professor Sir Peter Hall? It describes a vision of the development of major hubs where high-speed and local rail services can operate together and be linked with fast bus services, offering seamless travel.
We entirely back the idea of developing stations as interchanges with other modes of transport . The whole idea of station travel plans was endorsed by the station champions. The Association of Train Operating Companies is leading a programme of 24 pilot schemes covering 31 stations, and the action plans were formally launched on 19 June.