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Part of High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 6:00 pm, 15th July 2019

As so often, my right hon. Friend is absolutely right, and what has also not been forthcoming is a proper business case. We have had the business case for HS2, but we have not had—I have asked for this time and again—a business case for the remnant west coast main line, which will still be a much larger transport network than HS2. We are told that there will be freight on it, and it is good that there will be additional freight, but freight is a very competitive market and will not replace the extremely lucrative premium revenues that come from high-speed trains.

What we will be left with on the west coast main line, which is absolutely vital for my constituency and those of my hon. Friends the Members for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) and for Stone (Sir William Cash) and so many others, is a line which takes freight, which of course is heavy and causes extra maintenance, and with suburban and stopping services such as the London Northwestern Railway. That is an excellent service and I use it frequently, but I often pay £15 or £20 for a single ticket from London to Stafford. I welcome that, but it is not possible to run a proper, profitable railway on income like that. What it relies on of course is the incredibly expensive £106 or £108 single peak fare from Stafford to London—my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield will probably be able to quote the figure from Lichfield. These are the fares that pay for the railway at the moment.