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Modern Railway: 200th Anniversary

Volume 708: debated on Thursday 3 February 2022

Railways are a product of Britain’s rich history of engineering innovation and the 200-year anniversary is a nationally important moment to mark and celebrate. The Department for Transport will work with the whole industry to make this a special event for workers and passengers alike.

Clearly, in York the 200th anniversary will be incredibly significant, with both the reopening of the National Railway Museum, which will be an incredible moment, and the opportunity it gives us to look not just back but forward at the future of rail. Will the Minister therefore work with us to promote the future of digital and civil engineering, and focus on those from minoritised groups and women, to ensure that they have their place in the future of the railway too?

The 200-year anniversary is an important one. I recall many visits to the National Railway Museum when I was a kid; we used to go on school visits there. On the hon. Lady’s point about skills, engineering and more diversity, yes, absolutely—I am really keen, as I am sure are all my colleagues on the Front Bench, to see more diversity in the railways.

What a wonderful way to celebrate that anniversary: setting up a scheme to help small stations in economically important towns such as Milford Haven in my constituency to access funding in a timely way to see an upgrade. The current process, whereby Network Rail works up a project and then it takes years and years of multiple rounds of appraisals—big money-spinners for the consultants—just does not work. Will my hon. Friend please look at that?

I am more than happy to pick up on that point. If my right hon. Friend wants to tell me more about his local station, which he is clearly passionate about supporting, I would be happy to meet him.