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Public Transport: Sporting Events

Volume 652: debated on Thursday 10 January 2019

14. If he will hold discussions with the Rail Delivery Group and the Premier League on public transport for people travelling to sporting events. (908485)

Officials from my Department have met the Premier League, most recently in November, to discuss collaboration between the railway industry and football bodies to improve travel to and from football matches. The Rail Delivery Group is a key partner in that ongoing collaboration.

Football fans in this country are often stung when fixtures are rescheduled for TV, meaning that they regularly miss out on the cheapest train tickets. The Premier League, the English Football League and the Rail Delivery Group are all in favour of a fans’ fare scheme, but the Department for Transport is dragging its feet. Will the Minister agree to meet me to discuss how we can address this important issue, which affects so many football fans in this country?

The joint project involving the Rail Delivery Group, train operators, football bodies, supporters’ groups, British Transport police and the DFT has been set up to look into a range of issues around football-related train travel. That work includes the exploration of a flexible ticketing offer for supporters, including for when matches are rescheduled. I am happy to have a conversation with the hon. Lady. I would be interested to hear whether she will condemn the strikes throughout the north on Saturdays, which are affecting football fans’ capacity to get to their matches. Let us hear Labour say something on behalf of football fans throughout the north, and not in support of strikers.

Having heard the right hon. Member for Derbyshire Dales (Sir Patrick McLoughlin) from his seat, we can now have the considerable joy of hearing him on his feet.

Will the Minister look at the responsibilities across his whole Department and other sectors covered by his Department as far as such situations are concerned? Last night, the M1 was closed for four hours, thus preventing all the supporters of Burton Albion from getting to the Etihad stadium. Will there be an inquiry into why it was necessary to close the M1 for four hours on both sides?

My right hon. Friend makes a very valuable point with which I entirely agree. We will look at this matter across the Department.