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Rolling Stock

Volume 612: debated on Thursday 30 June 2016

I am sure that my hon. Friend will join me in welcoming the introduction of an additional 9,000 peak-time seats on the Essex Thameside route by January next year. By 2024, capacity will increase by a further 16,000 seats.

As my right hon. Friend is aware, there has been some criticism from constituents about c2c train services and services on the Greater Anglia line. Will he share with the House when he expects further new rolling stock to be provided by c2c and when he expects the decision on the Greater Anglia franchise to be announced?

A number of improvements are coming to the c2c line. In the past, my hon. Friend has been incredibly critical, but he has welcomed many of the changes that have been brought in by the new franchise. Obviously, those take a bit of time to bed in, but I know he very much welcomes the extra availability and the new seats, and I hope to see those in operation as soon as possible.

The Secretary of State will know that the rolling stock serving the south-west of England dates from the 1970s, and we are eagerly updating our new, updated trains. What assessment have he and his Department made of the impact of Brexit and the economic shock from Brexit on his overall investment plans for our transport system?

I am pleased to be travelling on one of the new intercity express programme trains later today to mark the 150 years of the part of the railways that serves his town and his constituency.

I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. The investment we have seen on his line, and the investment we are seeing in the new IEP trains and the new AT300s, which will serve places further into the south-west, are very welcome, and I am pleased that he welcomes that investment.

Following on from the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess), will the Secretary of State assure me that the East Anglia rail franchise announcement is imminent, as we expect, so that we in the east can move out of the sidings?

I well know the desire of all my colleagues in East Anglia to hear about the new franchise. I hope not to have to keep them waiting too long.

The other day, an employee of Virgin Trains East Coast described the refurb of some of the old trains as “like giving granny a new dress”. Is the Secretary of State not aware of the state of the rolling stock on the east coast? When is it going to get better, and how can we justify that sort of rolling stock when we are wasting so much money on HS2?

What the hon. Gentleman should be welcoming, as he always fails to do, is the vast investment that we are seeing on that railway line. He is now complaining about the upgrading of stock in the interim before the new IEP trains come in. I would have thought he would welcome that new service and also welcome the new service into London that will eventually serve Huddersfield.

The Secretary of State and I use the midland main line operated by East Midlands Trains to get to and from our constituencies. The high-speed 125 trains on that line are rapidly approaching the end of their operating life. Will he ensure that, with the new franchise, they are replaced with new rolling stock and not recycled second-hand rolling stock from other lines?

When we come to look at the franchise for the east midlands line, I am sure that is one of the many issues we will take into account. It is worth pointing out that since 2010 we have seen almost 5,000 new carriages for use in the UK’s railway network. That is one of the biggest ever upgrades of our railway stock. Like my hon. Friend, as a regular user of the east midlands line I also hope it will get new rolling stock in due course.

The Cumbrian Coast railway line serves my constituency, and I get regular complaints about the rolling stock. A lot of the busy trains often have only a single carriage, and some of the carriages date from the 1970s. What work are the Government doing with the new franchise holder to improve the situation?

We are doing a number of things with regard to the Transpennine route and the Northern route—not least, under this Government, the phasing out of the Pacer train. That was always promised and alluded to, but we are actually going to deliver on it, and I am very pleased about that. If the hon. Lady is saying that more needs to be done, I accept that, but the very fact that since 2010 , as I say, almost 5,000 new carriages will have been ordered and put into use on the railway network is a very commendable record.

With over 900 houses currently under construction in Woodford, residents in Cheadle, Gatley, Cheadle Hulme and Bramhall are facing daily gridlock at the junction of the A34 and the A560. Will the Secretary of State agree to meet me to discuss ways to alleviate this problem?

I am sure I can organise a meeting for my hon. Friend to discuss this problem. We had a bit of a look at it some time ago when I was last in her constituency, but I am more than happy to discuss any transport problems that she has.

Order. I think that, as I have just been advised, the rolling stock has rather left the line. I err on the side of generosity, but the hon. Lady’s supplementary was at best tangentially related to the question on the Order Paper. We will let her off on this occasion.