In the past two years, more than £238 million has been spent on schemes benefiting more than 100 stations nationally, including major investment at Birmingham New Street, London King’s Cross and Reading stations. Work includes improved access, better parking, retail outlets and ticket offices.
I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. Lowestoft station is Britain’s most easterly station, and while welcome work is currently taking place to improve bus interchange facilities the station itself remains shabby in appearance. Will the Minister confirm that as part of the negotiations for the extension of Greater Anglia’s franchise, the Government will do all they can to ensure that the station and its surrounds are smartened up and brought back into full use?
Although there will be no changes in the requirements for the direct award up until 2016, my hon. Friend will be reassured to know that Abellio will be required to undertake normal repair and maintenance activities and to invest in areas where there is a positive business case. I fully understand what my hon. Friend says about the condition of Lowestoft station and the overall impression it gives, and I will certainly draw both his comments and mine to the attention of Abellio.
Given that on a recent visit to Wolverhampton the Transport Secretary described our train station as “awful”, and given that the Department for Transport contributes to the regional growth fund, will the Minister commit himself to supporting the bid to the regional growth fund by Wolverhampton city council and a consortium to rebuild the station and regenerate the surrounding area?
The hon. Lady is absolutely right: my right hon. Friend the Transport Secretary did visit the station, and he had a very jolly visit. I can also reassure her that a considerable amount of investment is being made in the area, but the specific bid proposals she mentions will be fully considered and decisions will flow from that in due course.
When the Minister discusses the refurbishment of stations, will he look closely at accessibility for passengers with poor mobility, especially wheelchair users? Will he also take that a step further and speak with some of the train operating companies about the dismal access for some wheelchair users when trying to get on trains?
The hon. Gentleman raises a very important point. It is crucial that access for those with restricted mobility is improved. That is why, as he will be aware, there is the Access for All scheme, with investment of more than £300 million for the whole programme, and with an additional £100 million to be made available for the next control period. We are as anxious as he is to ensure that there are improvements for such people.