Rail Announcement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:44 pm on 27th March 2018.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport 12:44 pm, 27th March 2018

On that last point, there was a revenue issue last year around Govia Thameslink Railway and the completely unnecessary strike action taken by the unions. I am happy that that railway is now mostly back to normal and I hope that we will not have that issue again. The hon. Gentleman asked about the east coast main line. I will come back to the House when it is the right moment to do so, when we are ready to set out the approach that we are going to take. It is important to ensure that that is dealt with on a value-for-money basis but also on an operational basis, to ensure that passengers are not affected by the trouble on that route at the moment.

The hon. Gentleman asked about timetables on the west coast main line. That will come from the bids that are tabled for that particular route, depending on how the bidders plan to enhance services. The invitation to tender starts today, and we will start to get the proposals back during the course of this year. Of course, no one can bid for a franchise without a passport, and that will continue to be the case. He also asked about the funding level for Scotland. I simply remind him that the Government have provided more than would have been provided under the Barnett formula. Scottish Members normally argue for the Barnett formula, except when it is inconvenient for them to do so. The reality is that they should be glad to get anything more than the Barnett formula, because that is what they always argue that Scotland should receive.

The hon. Gentleman asked about learning lessons from failure. As I said in my previous statement on the east coast main line, we have tightened the risk-sharing mechanisms and we will be watching this particular franchise like a hawk to ensure that it is financially solid and robust. He also asked about the speed of journeys to Scotland. Of course, HS2 will reduce journey times to Scotland. There is an issue north of Crewe because the new classic-compatible trains are not tilting trains, and that is something we will have to address as we go through the 2020s, but the reality is that journey times to Scotland will be reduced as a result of HS2 arriving. That is part of delivering better services right across the country and, crucially, delivering jobs right across the country. That will happen all across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.