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Railways: Brighton Main Line

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 17 April 2007

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Tom Harris) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport announced on 4 April 2007 the results of the recent consultation on the implementation of the Brighton Main Line (BML) Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS). I would like to take this opportunity to inform Parliament of the announcement.

The key conclusion is that the Gatwick Express will be retained as a non-stop service between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria every 15 minutes. In addition, at the busiest times of day, the service will also run beyond Gatwick to Brighton, doubling the number of express trains between Brighton and London Victoria in the high peak. Unused carriages will be taken from storage and reconditioned to provide the extra trains. At least two extra trains will also run between Redhill and London in the peak. These changes will provide more than 3,700 seats into and out of London at the busiest times.

To facilitate this change, the existing Gatwick Express franchise will be ended in May 2008 to allow the creation of a new franchise that will include both the Gatwick Express and Southern services. The new Gatwick Express service will begin in December 2008 under the same branding and with the same frequency to and from the airport. Luggage storage will continue to be provided to accommodate the needs of airport passengers.

A stakeholder briefing document giving summaries of the responses made by stakeholders to the consultation and outlining how the key decisions were reached was also published on 4 April 2007. This document has been placed in the House Libraries and can also be downloaded from the department’s website at www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/closed/brightonmainlinerusconsultation/briefingdocument.

This is the finalisation of the last of the RUSs that were started by the Strategic Rail Authority. All future RUSs, which are designed to show how the best use may be made of existing network capacity and to assess whether the available capacity can meet medium-term demand, will be led and published by Network Rail.