The Government are committed to an extensive rolling programme of electrification; by the end of the decade, around three quarters of passenger miles travelled in England and Wales will be on electric trains. Electrification will deliver trains that are cleaner, quieter, faster and cheaper to operate, with more capacity for passenger and freight customers.
Electrification of the great western line through Swindon and beyond will allow increased train capacity. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the need for more seats to allow more passengers to use the service in comfort will be at the heart of the greater western franchise process when it is reopened?
I welcome the Secretary of State to his job. As he will know, I welcome the go-ahead for the tram train pilot project between Sheffield and Rotherham. The trams will not be delivered until 2015 and there will probably then be a couple years of evaluation. If the scheme is successful—I am sure that it will be—rolling it out will depend on having underused heavy rail lines that are electrified. Will he bear that in mind when considering future electrification?
We in the south Wales valleys are delighted that those lines are to be electrified, but can the Secretary of State tell us when that work will start and how much faster journey times between Treherbert, Llwynypia and Cardiff will be? If he is unable to pronounce those place names or tell us today, will he please write to me?
18. In view of the need for strategic planning, will the Secretary of State bear in mind that everyone would like electrified railway lines and that provision should be made to give comfort to investors and for infrastructure developments? (123226)
South-west MPs met yesterday to discuss the pause in the greater western franchise. One of the concerns raised was the impact of the current ring-fenced electrification programme, which had been built into people’s bid plans. The issue was whether we would in fact see a worse service as a result of those electrification plans, as we have been unable to take the franchise bid forward and there are new timetables because of the works required for electrification.