13. What progress his Department has made on funding new railway stations. (145062)
In the last two years, funding has been allocated for six new stations on the rail network in England, either from the major local transport schemes budget or the local sustainable transport fund. In addition, in July 2012 we announced a new stations fund to help local authorities implement schemes in England and Wales that are ready to proceed.
I am very grateful for that reply and excited about the potential of the new stations fund. The Minister will be aware of long-standing plans for a Worcestershire parkway station and the strong support for that from our county council, residents and businesses. Will he take account of the compelling case for investment in that project and continue to encourage train operating companies to examine how they could increase passenger numbers by stopping there?
I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that we have been working closely with Worcestershire county council as it develops its plans for a new parkway station. I understand that the council has submitted a bid for funding from the new stations fund for a station on the Worcester-Oxford line. That was one of 14 bids received within the deadline and it will of course be carefully evaluated.
In September 2011, the then Secretary of State confirmed that the leasehold ownership of stations would be transferred to the train operators. That will obviously make a big difference to regular train users and, in my part of the world, to tourists as well. As this is Wales tourism week, will the Minister update the House on how he is getting on with that?
I welcome my hon. Friend’s support for that initiative. He might know that the Greater Anglia franchise, which commenced in February 2011, transferred the leasehold of the stations concerned to the new franchisee, Abellio. The approach was also included in the now-cancelled inter-city west coast franchise, as well as the Essex Thameside franchise competition, which is now under way. The arrangements in other franchises are being considered as part of the ongoing development work, but we certainly think that this direction of travel is worth supporting.
The Minister might be aware of the ceremony that was held yesterday evening to mark the completion of the construction of the station box at Woolwich on the Crossrail line, and its handover from Berkeley Homes to Crossrail. He might also be aware that agreement has not yet been reached on the detailed funding arrangements for the fit-out. Will he ensure that his Department works closely with the Greater London authority, Transport for London, Berkeley Homes and all the other relevant parties to ensure that agreement is reached quickly, so that this important station can be completed?
Will the Minister clarify how much funding for new stations has been made available over recent years in the south-east of England compared with the north-west of England, and will he support increased investment in new stations, specifically in Merseyside and, even more specifically, along the Wrexham to Bidston line that passes through my constituency?
I think the hon. Lady should be very pleased with the level of transport investment that the Government has committed to, particularly rail investment. In the north-west area, for example, the northern hub is being funded in its entirety. We are also seeing investment in new and reopened lines such as the Oxford-Bedford line, in redoubled lines such as the Swindon-Kemble line, and in new stations across the country—including in Teesside, Warwickshire, west Yorkshire and Coventry—six of which have already been opened. We have seen investment right across England that will proceed right through Network Rail’s current plan, and I hope that she will welcome that.