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Furness Line Electrification

Volume 742: debated on Thursday 14 December 2023

Northern is developing a final business case for a new fleet that will bring new trains to my hon. Friend’s route, and include options for greener technology such as batteries. We are also working with the Great British Railways transition team to assess options to decarbonise the whole network.

I thank the Minister for his answer. He will be delighted to know that, for once, I am going to ask not about the quality of service on the Furness line, but rather about capacity. The Government recently announced, through the Network North deal, the electrification of the energy coast line. That will take 150 million tonnes of freight off that line every year and is hugely welcome. Through the SSN-AUKUS programme and the Dreadnought programme, and the doubling of the size of the shipyard in Barrow, a similar amount of freight will be needed going the other way. Will the Minister meet me and the wider Team Barrow board to discuss the merits of electrifying the Furness line?

As my hon. Friend knows, my officials are active members of Team Barrow, alongside the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and local partners, recognising the national significance of the submarine programme. Work is ongoing, looking at improvements to the A590, and at options for the rail industry to improve the local rail network. I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend to discuss that work.