GWR and Network Performance — [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:28 am on 5th February 2019.

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Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (Transport) (Buses) 10:28 am, 5th February 2019

The hon. Gentleman draws on several points that I and colleagues are due to make or have made.

I come back to the issue of delays and quite how frustrating they are for daily commuters in towns like Reading and Slough, in addition to the sensible points made earlier. It is deeply frustrating to have to deal with delays on a daily basis. It has a huge impact on family life and on people’s desire to work in London or to commute into Reading, Slough, Swindon or other business centres along the line. I am sure that applies to the other towns and cities represented here today. It is a deeply frustrating daily occurrence for hundreds and thousands of people in this region, which is a crucial part of our railway network.

I have a series of questions for the Minister about the performance of GWR and the Department for Transport. I will address both infrastructure investment and the management of the railway. First and foremost, why on earth did the Government delay electrification along this line? We have heard about the benefits that south Wales would have had if it had been properly managed. We have also had delays to our rail services because of the lengthening of the roll-out of electrification. The installation of the gantries was hugely delayed and on a number of the local lines that feed out from Reading, such as the lines to Basingstoke, Southampton, Oxford and Gatwick, we do not have that level of investment. Commuters using those lines, including many of my constituents and others in neighbouring constituencies, are suffering and would like to see more electrification, not less. It is a huge issue.