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East Coast Main Line Route Study

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 22 November 2018

7. What decisions on railway investment he plans to make as a result of the recent east coast main line route study. (907771)

The Department is investing up to £780 million to upgrade the east coast main line from 2019. The works are to be completed in the early 2020s and will enable faster, more frequent journeys with more seats. Building upon those works, the east coast main line route study has identified a broad range of investment choices. We are working closely with Transport for the North, Network Rail and High Speed 2 Ltd to assess which enhancements should be taken forward.

In 1990, British Rail ran an express train from King’s Cross to Edinburgh with track cleared of other traffic in 3 hours and 30 minutes, including a two-minute stop at Newcastle. This was less time than planned for HS2, and with some additional four-tracking and two rail flyovers, the east coast main line could run regular 140 mph services in such times, and with the existing stock. Will Ministers look positively at such investment, as first proposed long ago by British Rail?

The key point to make is that we are carrying significantly more passengers on the east coast main line, and this investment will enable it to deliver faster and more frequent journeys with more seats between London and Edinburgh.

I welcome the Minister back to the Dispatch Box. He will know from his previous time in the Department of my campaign for better train services into northern Lincolnshire, particularly a direct service from King’s Cross. May I invite him to visit northern Lincolnshire and to travel by train—a wonderful experience—and meet the major businesses in the area who have joined my campaign?

I always enjoy my visits to north Lincolnshire and will happily take up my hon. Friend’s invitation.

As the Minister will be aware, the east coast main line goes through my constituency of East Lothian. Can he confirm that, following this review, the stations at East Linton and Reston in my neighbouring constituency are still on task to be reopened?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is already in discussions on this very issue, and we will get back to the hon. Gentleman with detailed answers.