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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:40 am on 19th December 2018.

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Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 10:40 am, 19th December 2018

That was a repetition of the point that the hon. Lady made earlier, so I do not need to address it.

I gently remind hon. Members that we had a zero-growth franchise, which was put in place by the Labour party, and we are playing catch-up on under-investment. Labour Members may say that Labour invested steadily when it was in government, but the evidence is the exact opposite. We had a zero-growth franchise and are catching up from it. Let me consider what that catch-up might look like.

Although 2018 is clearly a year that passengers in the north would wish to forget, we should not overlook the fact that train services in the region will be changing fundamentally. A significant amount of investment will bring passenger benefits. On the infrastructure side, the electrification between Manchester and Preston, which I mentioned earlier, was finally energised last week and the first test trains are now operational. [Interruption.] It will benefit services across the north. That is my point. Electric passenger services will be phased in during the spring. Across the region platform lengthening is under way. Of course I recognise that performance is not good enough, and that is why we have made a change in the control period 6 budgets and priorities. Under CP6 there will be a budget of £48 billion. That covers the period from 2019 to 2024. The priority was moving away from enhancements to catching up on core reliability—the maintenance of the network.