Rail Services: South-East

M6 – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 10 December 2015.

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Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield Conservative, Lewes 9:30, 10 December 2015

What his policy is on improvement of rail services in the south-east.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Government are investing heavily in service improvements in this region through the multi-billion pound Thameslink programme, in which new trains, service and station improvements will finally start to be delivered next year. However, I am the first to recognise that the current performance, especially on the Brighton main line, has been well below expectations. That is why I continue to chair the Southeastern quadrant taskforce, which focuses on driving up performance on these vital routes. I wish to invite my hon. Friend and all other interested hon. Members to a new year taskforce meeting in which we will discuss performance improvements specifically for those routes.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield Conservative, Lewes

I thank the Minister for her reply and her hard work in dealing with this issue. Given that Southern rail is about to roll out a new timetable on Brighton main line and that its performance has been so poor, will she provide all Sussex MPs with a monthly performance report so that we can personally put pressure on Southern rail to deliver?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

My hon. Friend raises an excellent point. I am told that all that information is on the Govia Thameslink Railway website, but I confess that I find it quite difficult to find and quite hard to interpret. I will ensure that the information, which is already provided by the operator to my Department and published, is made available to members of the public and their MPs in the most obvious and transparent form, so that we can all see the performance improvement that we want.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

A bit like many Members of Parliament, when I am here in London and the south-east, I use Southern rail, and I will be very pleased if it is to be improved. None of us begrudges that investment, but we do put it into perspective, which is that we are not getting enough infrastructure investment in the north, linking the big towns and cities. It must be north first and south second.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The hon. Gentleman is a good friend, and I would hate to suggest that he was snoozing yesterday rather than watching the news, because we announced a transformational package for railways in the north. Let me tell him what is happening in Huddersfield: new TransPennine trains; new services between major cities; three new stations; 500 new carriages across the network; an end to those hated Pacers forever; and on-board improvements for passengers. He might shake his head, but it will happen. He can say bye-bye to the Pacers from 2019. This Government are absolutely determined that the northern powerhouse comes to life based on transport investment, and I am so proud that we are the Government who are delivering.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

My constituents find it extremely difficult to get to the south-east because we do not have a direct rail service to London. Will the Minister use her good offices to ensure that the rail regulator, which has had an application with it for two years, makes a quick decision?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

It is impressive stuff, Mr Speaker. My hon. Friend will know that the open access competition to which he refers is a matter for the regulator, but it has been quite clear that his constant campaigning is paying off. He is getting £88 million of funding for the dualling of the A160 near Immingham and resignalling for the north-east Lincolnshire region, plus the massive franchise benefits that we announced yesterday, including improvements at Cleethorpes station.