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Rail Services: Overcrowding

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 15 September 2016

This Government are making the biggest investment in our railways since the Victorian era, enabling more trains and longer trains to operate on many of our busiest routes. More than 563 new carriages are planned to enter service by the end of 2020.

[Official Report, 10 October 2016, Vol. 615, c. 1MC.]

The Minister is right that investment is the key to tackling overcrowding, so why has his Department waited two years before even making a decision on the private finance available to electrify the line to Hull?

In the interests of brevity, I will not have a theological debate with the hon. Lady about whether that is privately or publicly financed, but it is publicly financed. I recognise that she has been a doughty campaigner for improved services to Hull. Connectivity to Hull is very important and I look forward to giving her good news as soon as we can.

Electrification of the Chase line will help to address overcrowding. However, I am aware that there may be delays in getting electric trains on the line. Will my hon. Friend review the position and do everything in his power to ensure that we get electric trains as soon as possible?

We had a very productive meeting with my hon. Friend last week. She is a doughty campaigner on behalf of that line and I will continue to press for further advances on the issue, as she asks.

The service on Southern is officially the worst in the country, and passengers have endured appalling overcrowding for far too long. Removing hundreds of services a day has served only to exacerbate overcrowding on the services that survive. When will the Secretary of State bring to an end the misery of long-suffering passengers and intervene, or does he agree with the former Rail Minister, who effectively said that there are no circumstances that would warrant Govia Thameslink Railway being stripped of this franchise?

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will welcome the fact that more than two thirds of the services that were taken out of the timetable have now been put back in again. Our focus is on restoring normality to the service and putting the interests of passengers first. The service is improving on a regular basis, with more services returning to the full timetable, and I will focus on that to make sure that we get back to the full timetable.[Official Report, 10 October 2016, Vol. 615, c. 2MC.]