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Double-decker Trains

Volume 547: debated on Thursday 28 June 2012

13. What consideration she is giving to the reintroduction of double-decker trains on the rail network. (114052)

A report prepared by Network Rail in 2007 concluded that the introduction of double-decker trains on the current UK rail network would require extensive modification to structures and stations and was not economically viable.

Although such trains operate in a number of European countries, the larger loading gauge used in continental Europe allows the use of taller, wider trains than is possible in the UK.

Other nations seem to make a success of having double-decker trains, and we used to have them on some suburban services in this country. I urge my right hon. Friend the Minister to ask Network Rail to think again, because lots of commuters on congested trains would want us to replicate the success of double-decker buses by having double-decker trains.

I welcome my hon. Friend’s interest in this issue, and I have looked at it. The reality, however, is that double-decker trains that were run in the past by British Rail were claustrophobic, it took a long time for passengers to get on and off, and they deployed the sort of slam-door stock that we have tried to phase out. The shape of the UK rail network, the size of the bridges, the distance between rail tracks and the distance between the tracks and the platform mean that we cannot run the large double-decker trains that work in Europe. I am afraid that there are much more cost-effective ways to expand capacity, with longer trains and more frequent services, which is what the Government are doing.