Does my hon. Friend agree that rail travel in south-east Essex, especially on the Fenchurch Street line that he visited, has never been rosier following the £150 million investment in resignalling that was completed last year and in view of the 25 replacement trains coming next year and the new management and worker ethos which is bringing so many benefits? Does he agree that since 1948, when it was nationalised, the line has suffered and failed? What hope can he bring to my constituents that, after franchising, the line will never be renationalised?
I am sure that none of my hon. Friend's constituents would want the line renationalised once they have tasted the benefits of privatisation. On my visit, I, like my hon. Friend, was impressed by the benefits that will come to his constituents from the investment in the new signalling and other management improvements introduced into LTS Rail.
As the hon. Gentleman knows, passenger service requirements will protect every station and route, including the LTS line. He will also know that PSRs are not timetables. He will be aware, however, that far from looking to reduce the services provided, the management of LTS Rail is looking for opportunities to develop them further.
When my hon. Friend next meets Network SouthEast, will he ask for reassurance that the recent sound bite offered to Meridian Television by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) concerning Networker trains was wholly fallacious? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Networker trains ordered for the coast line are on schedule and will be in service by the end of the year and that the remaining trains are out to tender? Is that not very good news for Kent commuters?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He will be aware that there is a further invitation to tender for 44 Networker train sets. Those tenders are due to be returned by the end of this week.