We are reforming rail guided by the “Great British Railways: Williams-Shapps plan for rail” White Paper. This will improve services for passengers and drive taxpayer value for money at the same time.
After many years of waiting, we have seen the electrification of the Manchester to Liverpool and Manchester to Preston railway lines. We are now looking forward to the electrification of the line between Bolton and Wigan. Can my hon. Friend confirm that this is going to go full steam ahead?
Stepping back in time at the Dispatch Box, Mr Speaker. Steam is not necessarily an option for that particular line, but I am pleased to confirm that on 1 September this year, £78 million to electrify the route between Wigan North Western and Bolton was announced. It will enable greener electric trains—rather than Thomas the Tank Engine—to run along that route, with more seats to serve passengers across Greater Manchester. The scheme is on track and targeted for completion by 2024.
In Bath, we are still waiting for the full electrification of our lines, so perhaps the Minister will take that on board too. The direct line from Oldfield Park station in Bath to London Waterloo will be cancelled in December. Will the Minister reconsider these service cuts, which will make travel into south London nearly three times more expensive for my constituents and force them to use the underground while covid cases are rising?
On the hon. Lady’s last point, using the underground—and other trains—is one of the safest methods of transport in the covid pandemic. I believe that the air on the underground is exchanged every three minutes, and on trains every six minutes. They are perfectly safe. She referred to the consultation that has just finished on South Western Railway services, and she is quite correct: passenger numbers on that service are remarkably low. I will happily meet her to go through that, and we can talk about how we can improve those services.