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I thank the hon. Lady. I am sure the Minister is logging the various bids that are being made.
My area of the north-east has good journey times to London, but very poor journey times to other places. Is it right that it takes longer to get from Darlington to Manchester on a single train than it takes to get to
London? The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills was stunned recently when he discovered how long he had to spend on the train when travelling from Liverpool to Darlington. Ironically, he was making the trip to be present at the inauguration of the new inter-city train factory at Newton Aycliffe, which is hugely welcome in my part of the world.
Rail investment is not just about passengers, but about freight, as Kelvin Hopkins mentioned. It was good to see the recent but long-overdue investment by the Government to enable modern-sized containers landing at Teesport to join the east coast main line. However, a large modern port needs good connections to a wide hinterland and, again, the cross-country links are very poor. If such a container was destined for Preston, which is less than 100 miles away, it would have to go via Birmingham, so poor are the trans-Pennine links.