Great Northern Great Eastern Upgrade: Compensation — [Valerie Vaz in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:52 pm on 5 May 2016.

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Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 1:52, 5 May 2016

I am extremely grateful to the Minister and to Daniel Zeichner, who speaks for the Opposition, for contributing to the debate.

The problem that has not been grappled with is twofold. Yes, the Minister says that extensive consultation took place before the upgrade of the line and that there was a programme with schools, but the difficulty, as adverted to in the email that my constituent, Mr Scrutton, sent me overnight, is that the case presented to local residents, parish councils and everyone else was that the upgrade, with the continuous welding of the track to which my hon. Friend refers, would improve their lives by reducing the noise and vibration to which they were exposed. That might well be the case, and the figure of 60% that he gives for the reduction in noise and vibration from using continuously welded track might well be right, but it is only right if the frequency, speed and weight of the trains are the same, and that has not been the case.

The track, signalling and infrastructure have been improved, but as a consequence, the line is used more frequently, including, as the Minister accepts, through the night, and it is used by trains that are heavier, faster and more frequent. The result is that the case that Network Rail presented during the consultation period, to which he adverts, does not represent the reality to which my constituents and those of other right hon. and hon. Members, who unfortunately are unable to join us today, are subjected. That is the issue with which Network Rail needs to grapple. I am talking about whether it can offer compensation and whether funding should have been put in place, when the project was announced, to ameliorate the fact that the trains are causing real concerns to those who live along the line and are affecting not only their property values but, much more importantly, their quality of life. That is what needs to be addressed. My hon. Friend says that he will talk to the Minister with responsibility in this area; I hope that that is the message that he will take back.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended.