Tilting Train Services: West Coast Main Line

Transport – in the House of Commons on 22nd October 2020.

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Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

What plans he has to maintain tilting train services on the west coast main line after the completion of High Speed 2; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Department for Transport)

No decisions have been made relating to the types of rolling stock required for the west coast main line after the completion of HS2.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

I am grateful for that answer, which was very different from what HS2 told me in a meeting recently. Lichfield is one of over 20 stations along the west coast main line that will not be served by HS2; the nearest station will be half an hour or more away. At the moment, we have the tilting Pendolinos, which are very fast, but HS2 told me that when they are phased out, they will not be replaced by any fast train, and the west coast main line will be used only for slow commuting trains. Can the Minister assure me that HS2 got it wrong at that meeting, and that stations such as Lichfield Trent Valley will still have a fast service down to London once HS2 is completed?

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Department for Transport)

I am always happy to provide reassurance to my hon. Friend. Fast inter-city trains will continue to run on the west coast main line once HS2 opens. One of the key aims for future service patterns is that all towns or cities that currently have a direct service to London will retain broadly comparable or better services once HS2 is completed.

Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

With reports of further overspends on High Speed 2, it now appears that the Government are abandoning their commitment that the track will connect all the way to Leeds. For all their soundbites and promises of levelling up, once again, the north is being punished by the Government’s failure to get to grips with the financial management of this project. I hope I am wrong, so let us find out. Can the Minister confirm categorically, right here today, that if HS2 is to be delivered, it will be delivered in full, and that it will benefit, among others, the good people of Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield and Leeds?

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Department for Transport)

As the shadow Minister is well aware, when the Prime Minister gave the go-ahead to HS2 in February this year, he said that we were committed to delivering phase 2b but how phase 2b was delivered would be subject to the integrated rail plan. We have been making significant progress with the integrated rail plan. Sir John Armitt and the National Infrastructure Commission have already published their interim report. We look forward to their further recommendations and to responding to them before Christmas.