Spare Parts (Rail Network)

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 8th May 2014.

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Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey Conservative, Suffolk Coastal 9:30 am, 8th May 2014

What assessment he has made of the level of availability of spare parts for the rail network.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Rolling stock spares are a matter for the train operators. They are required to have arrangements in place to maintain their leased trains so that they can deliver the performance level defined in their franchise agreement. I am aware of the specific problem of replacement wheels on my hon. Friend’s line.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey Conservative, Suffolk Coastal

Services on the Felixstowe to Ipswich line were disrupted for a number of reasons, one of which was the lack of availability of wheel sets around the entire network. I recognise that this is a matter for the rail companies to sort out themselves, but I hope that the Department can have a word with strategic partners, including with leasing companies and manufacturers.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Abellio Greater Anglia is well aware of the problem and has given us assurances that it is on top of it. The bad weather not only caused flood damage to some units, but caused a number of cases where brakes locked up and caused flats on the wheels so, instead of being able to re-profile the wheels perhaps six times during their life at 150,000-mile intervals, some of them were damaged beyond repair, which meant that there was a short-term shortage of those components.

Photo of Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour, Edinburgh North and Leith

Another important part of the rail infrastructure is the overhead wire system. When will the Minister take action to ensure the improvement of overhead wires on the east coast main line to avoid disruptions to services, of which I am sure he is well aware, given his journeys to London?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

As somebody who uses the east coast main line regularly, I am aware that we have regular problems with overhead lines. If a line is brought down by a fast moving train, it can take some considerable time to repair. That is in marked contrast to the performance of High Speed 1, where we had no disruption, despite the bad weather over the winter, and we can expect similar very high levels of performance from High Speed 2.