Train Operating Companies: Yorkshire — [Dame Cheryl Gillan in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:56 am on 19th December 2018.

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Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Keighley 9:56 am, 19th December 2018

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. His constituents are very welcome at Burley in Wharfedale, Menston, Ilkley and so on. I believe in the critical safety role of the guard.

I will move on to talk about Boxing day trains. One consequence of the disruption on Northern and TransPennine is that they are not fulfilling their promise—it was in the franchise—to run Boxing day trains. Northern and their franchise were meant to run 60 Boxing day trains this year, and TransPennine were meant to have proposals that would be funded by Government. There are no Boxing day trains in Yorkshire, but there are four lines in the south-east of England that will be running Boxing day trains. The following football teams have home games in Yorkshire: Leeds United, Sheffield United and Barnsley. Harrogate are playing against Halifax—a big local derby in the lower leagues—and I will be watching Guiseley play against Bradford Park Avenue.

There is demand for public transport and trains on Boxing day. Buses now run in Leeds, Bradford and some other Yorkshire cities, whereas they did not a decade ago. Some people cannot go home for Christmas from London to Yorkshire, because they have to be at work on 27 December and they cannot get a train back on Boxing day. There are also the issues of the environment and of loneliness—not everyone relishes being at home for 72 hours at a stretch, in some cases on their own. I appeal to the Minister: let us have Boxing day trains, as in the franchise, on Boxing day 2019. I think he can be the man to deliver that.

We have not yet heard much of London North Eastern Railway in this debate. I understand that it has promised to have seven direct trains to London, which were meant to start in May 2019—previous transport Ministers have assured us that they would. My understanding is that they will now start in the autumn of next year, and I wonder whether the Minister can confirm that today. Lots of businesses in Bradford are really looking forward to those direct trains to London.

Finally, I want to share a railway success story, which is about the role of heritage railways. They will be running across Yorkshire during the holiday period. My distinguished predecessor Bob Cryer was instrumental in saving the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and my distinguished predecessor Ann Cryer is president of that railway. I have to report to Members that its “Santa special” on Christmas Eve is completely full—even the local MP cannot get a ticket. I am assured that if there are any cancellations, tickets will be available on Facebook.