Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Campaign reply - Rail Passengers

Several constituents have sent me a copy of a campaign email which at heart is seeking the nationalisation of the railway. I disagree.  It also makes deeply flawed statements about the rail network and completely overlooks the progress made since privatisation such as passenger numbers doubling and the biggest investment in the railways since Victorian times.

Much of the views expressed in this campaign were reflected in the Labour party manifesto which as we all know was heavily rejected at the last election. The Conservative party manifesto made clear the  commitment to the railways and how best to continue record investment to improve them. There is a lot that still needs doing after decades of neglect and under-investment during the disastrous state owned era.

For the avoidance of doubt the government will ensure we see best value for money so that rail users can enjoy more reliable and frequent services.  Cornwall has seen the provision of  a million extra seats recently with the introduction of new, faster and more frequent trains. It will continue to act against any part of the rail service that is failing.

The Conservative party manifesto made many references to our railways. Below is an extract from one section. It sums up the vision for the future of the railways and one I am pleased to endorse as did so many at the last election:

A transport revolution

A key part of our plan to level up the UK’s cities and regions is to connect them. Leeds is the largest city in Western Europe without a light rail or metro system. And European cities are often more productive than our own in large part because they have better infrastructure. We will connect our cities:

We will build Northern Powerhouse Rail between Leeds and Manchester and then focus on Liverpool, Tees Valley, Hull, Sheffield and Newcastle. We will invest in the Midlands Rail Hub, strengthening rail links including those between Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Coventry, Derby, Hereford and Worcester.

We will also invest in improving train lines to the South West and East Anglia.

We will extend contactless pay-asyou go ticketing to almost 200 more stations in the South East, meaning that 50 per cent of all rail journeys and almost all London commuter journeys can be completed using a  contactless bank card.

We will give city regions the funding to upgrade their bus, tram and train services to make them as good as London’s, with more frequent, better-integrated services, more electrification, modern buses and trains and smart ticketing – such as the vision proposed by Andy Street for the West Midlands.

The railways need accountability, not nationalisation. So we will end the complicated franchising model and create a simpler, more effective rail system, including giving metro mayors control over services in their areas.

We will make a £28.8 billion investment in strategic and local roads. We will invest £1 billion in completing a fast-charging network to ensure that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid electric vehicle charging station. We will consult on the earliest date we can phase out the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars, while minimising the impact on drivers and businesses.

We will require that a minimum service operates during transport strikes. Rail workers deserve a fair deal, but it is not fair to let the trade unions undermine the livelihoods of others.

HS2 is a great ambition but will now cost at least £81 billion and will not reach Leeds or Manchester until as late as 2040. We will consider the findings of the Oakervee review into costs and timings and work with leaders of the Midlands and the North to decide the optimal outcome.

Connectivity is not just about the UK’s great cities. To help communities across the country,
we will restore many of the Beeching lines, reconnecting smaller towns such as Fleetwood and Willenhall that have suffered permanent disadvantage since they were removed from the rail network in the 1960s.