Public Transport: Boxing Day 2018

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:00 am on 24th January 2018.

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Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Keighley 11:00 am, 24th January 2018

I agree with Douglas Ross. We have to provide a quality service such that people know when the trains are running and that they will be of good quality. We cannot run a ramshackle service, because people will not use it. My worry would be that someone would say, “Why are we running these services at all?” as happened south of the border in 1980.

As I said, Merseyrail has been running services. This year, it was very enterprising, to use the word of the chair of the all-party rail group. It contacted Liverpool football club, which had an evening kick-off at 5.30 pm, and provided trains well into the evening so that supporters could not only get to the game, but get back afterwards. Northern Rail, for some reason—I am not sure how this came to be the case and whether it was down to an enlightened Minister or an enlightened civil servant—has to provide under the terms of its franchise 60 services in the north of England on Boxing day 2018. I am very hopeful that some of those may even go to Keighley, because I have had a very helpful letter from the chair of the West Yorkshire combined authority, Councillor Keith Wakefield. He says that it is working with the Department for Transport and Transport for the North, perhaps to enhance the 60 services and have more. The letter states:

“The consultation response submitted by WYCA noted that the Leeds North-West network (the Airedale and Wharfedale lines) were identified as a likely priority for Boxing Day services in the Leeds City region, not least reflecting the high levels of demand they attract at weekends/holidays and reflecting the extent to which the signalling is automated (which could reduce costs).”

If Bradford City are at home this year, I will look forward, possibly, to getting on to my local train service, on the Airedale or Wharfedale line, to get to the match.

In this more optimistic picture, TransPennine rail has an obligation in its franchise to make proposals to Ministers and to Transport for the North to run services across the Pennines. I understand that it has emphasised making proposals for the aforementioned Manchester airport, and that that is with Ministers and Transport for the North. I very much hope Ministers take an enlightened approach. I well remember a meeting about this in 2009 with Lord Adonis, marvellous man that he is, but I think that he rather humoured me and his mind was on High Speed 2 and very important projects such as that. These are little details, but I feel confident that this Minister is a man of such detail.