The Department sets the strategy for Network Rail. Its priority is to deliver a safe and efficient railway for passengers, freight customers and the taxpayer. The Secretary of State and I meet regularly with Network Rail on its financial performance and progress against the aims set out in its delivery plan. The “Putting Passengers First” programme is built around issues facing the industry. We are engaging with Network Rail as it implements this programme.
We had a very good debate on the Suggitt’s Lane level crossing only last week in Westminster Hall. Network Rail is accountable to the Secretary of State, but that does not mean that we can interfere or overrule its operational decisions. However, I have undertaken to meet Network Rail to ensure that it is aware of the views of the hon. Lady and my hon. Friend Martin Vickers. I met with some of the people who had travelled down from the area to understand their views and will ensure that Network Rail is fully sighted on those views.
Network Rail made a mistake when it demolished the Leyland bridge, which links my constituency and that of my hon. Friend Mr Bone. I am pleased to say that, with the Minister’s help, it is going to be rebuilt, but will he help us to keep the pressure up and ensure that those works are completed as soon as possible?
I will be happy to keep up the pressure. I recognise what a long-standing issue this is for my hon. Friend’s area and how hard he has campaigned on it, and I would be very happy to help.
I will of course happily meet the hon. Gentleman. The “Putting Passengers First” programme is all about greater collaboration and customer focus in the industry. I am happy to take that matter forward with the hon. Gentleman.
As Melanie Onn pointed out, and as the Minister is well aware, residents in Grimsby and Cleethorpes are very angry about the closure of Suggitt’s Lane level crossing. I appreciate the Minister’s help and assistance, but the reality is that there is no real accountability on this issue. If the community cannot hold Network Rail to account through their elected representatives, surely it is now time to look again at the existing legislation.
My hon. Friend has campaigned vigorously on this issue, and I know that he chaired a meeting on
Devolution was not recommended as part of the broader review of powers, but I will of course make sure that the hon. Gentleman’s views are considered by the Williams rail review.