The Secretary of State and I regularly engage with Cabinet Ministers on a range of transport measures. Over £340 million has already been provided for rail enhancements in Wales, including at Cardiff Central station and for the electrification of the Severn tunnel.
HS2 is of course a UK-wide project, which is partly being brought forward in order to enable the maximum number of people to get out of their cars and on to the trains, to use public transport, which I hope the Liberal Democrats would fully support. At the same time, the UK Government have been spending money to improve not only the rail service in Wales but rail services for travellers who go from Wales into England, such as through the Severn tunnel electrification. The UK Government have an extremely good record on supporting railways in Wales.
Avanti trains sometimes trundle along the rail infrastructure of north Wales, but these days it is an increasingly infrequent occurrence. Avanti has provided a shockingly poor service to the people of north Wales, and many of my constituents were deeply unhappy when the Department for Transport decided to extend its franchise for a further six months to give it a further chance. Will my hon. Friend please urge his counterpart in the Department for Transport to make sure this is Avanti’s last chance?
A number of colleagues from north Wales have discussed Avanti’s performance in colourful terms, and I am sure Avanti will have listened to what my right hon. Friend has had to say, as will the Department for Transport, which I can confirm will be assessing Avanti’s performance before any further contracts are given out.
It seems that rewarding failure is this Government’s guiding principle, and even Conservative Members agree. Avanti West Coast is the worst performing operator on the rail network, but Ministers spent an eye-watering £4 million of taxpayers’ money on bonuses to company executives for
“customer experience and acting as a good operator.”
Does the Minister agree that this is simply not good enough for the businesses and people of north Wales?
I have already said that I accept many concerns have been raised about Avanti’s performance, but it all goes to show why it is important to modernise the rail network across the whole of Wales. That is exactly what the UK Government are doing at the moment.