Travelling by rail has always been something I enjoyed. My dad was a railwayman, and when I was nine, my family travelled to Italy by train, which was pretty exotic in the 1960s. Since being elected as the MP for Lincoln, I have had to use trains twice weekly, and it is often not a positive experience. I have to change trains at Newark North Gate, and I sometimes walk right across Newark to Newark Castle station, which can take up to half an hour.
Our rail network is currently unreliable. The trains are sometimes old and dirty, and the staff, who work hard, are demoralised. There is often a single coach from Newark to Lincoln, and it is usually absolutely packed, with no space for pushchairs, wheelchairs or cycles. It is an expensive way of travelling, and it does not persuade people who have a choice to do so to abandon their car, thereby making an environmentally sustainable travelling policy even harder to achieve.
As a result of the recent fiasco with the east coast main line, I, as an MP, as well as local businesses and Visit Lincoln, are worried that the six extra direct services we have been promised by Virgin Trains in 2019 may not happen in the end. Lincoln needs those services. My constituents need reliable, affordable trains, businesses need to attract customers and our tourist offer needs to keep on attracting visitors.
Lincoln has just got a brand new transport hub, of which we are very proud. It is my hope that Lincoln and the rest of this country will very soon get a Labour Government who will bring our railways back into public ownership so that we have the rail system we need and the kind of Government that this country deserves.