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Rail Services: Overcrowding

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th September 2016.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North 12:00 am, 15th September 2016

What steps he is taking to reduce overcrowding on passenger rail services.

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

This Government are making the biggest investment in our railways since the Victorian era, enabling more trains and longer trains to operate on many of our busiest routes. More than 563 new carriages are planned to enter service by the end of 2020.[This section has been corrected on 10 October 2016, column 1MC — read correction]

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

The Minister is right that investment is the key to tackling overcrowding, so why has his Department waited two years before even making a decision on the private finance available to electrify the line to Hull?

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

In the interests of brevity, I will not have a theological debate with the hon. Lady about whether that is privately or publicly financed, but it is publicly financed. I recognise that she has been a doughty campaigner for improved services to Hull. Connectivity to Hull is very important and I look forward to giving her good news as soon as we can.

Photo of Amanda Milling Amanda Milling Conservative, Cannock Chase

Electrification of the Chase line will help to address overcrowding. However, I am aware that there may be delays in getting electric trains on the line. Will my hon. Friend review the position and do everything in his power to ensure that we get electric trains as soon as possible?

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

We had a very productive meeting with the hon. Lady last week. She is a doughty campaigner on behalf of that line and I will continue to press for further advances on the issue, as she asks.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

The service on Southern is officially the worst in the country, and passengers have endured appalling overcrowding for far too long. Removing hundreds of services a day has served only to exacerbate overcrowding on the services that survive. When will the Secretary of State bring to an end the misery of long-suffering passengers and intervene, or does he agree with the former Rail Minister, who effectively said that there are no circumstances that would warrant Govia Thameslink Railway being stripped of this franchise?

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will welcome the fact that more than two thirds of the services that were taken out of the timetable have now been put back in again. Our focus is on restoring normality to the service and putting the interests of passengers first. The service is improving on a regular basis, with more services returning to the full timetable, and I will focus on that to make sure that we get back to the full timetable.[This section has been corrected on 10 October 2016, column 2MC — read correction]