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Northern Rail Franchise (Rolling Stock)

Volume 501: debated on Thursday 3 December 2009

We are in discussions with the Northern Rail franchise and the passenger transport executives on a first phase of additional rolling stock. We will make an announcement in due course.

I thank the Minister for that slightly disappointing answer. We have already had a number of bids for rolling stock from different regions of the UK, but the 142s on the Manchester-Southport line are some of the oldest, most unsafe and, at times, most overcrowded stock in the network. Surely, if anything is a priority, this is.

Of all the rolling stock interventions, Northern is the most complex for a variety of reasons, not least because five major cities are involved and because of the interrelationships between the different cities. I have referred before to the discussions that the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Chris Mole), has had with the integrated transport authority and passenger transport executives in the region. The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know that we are working more closely with the PTEs and Northern to form a joint undertaking of the predictions, which will include his constituents and his area, as well as on the appraisal process. We hope that there will be good news around the corner.