Keith Simpson backs rail prospectus for future of East Anglian railways
3rd July 2012
Keith Simpson backs the East Anglian Rail Prospectus ‘Once in a Generation’ which outlines the case for rail investment in the region. He tells MPs that in the past East Anglia has never been taken seriously by Network Rail nor the franchisees with asset stripping, out-of-date rolling stock and no thought to capacity.
Mr Keith Simpson (Broadland) (Con): What a vision of loveliness my hon. Friend is, and I congratulate her on securing this important debate. To cut to the quick, many MPs and many of our constituents believe that, in the past, neither Network Rail nor the franchisees have taken East Anglia seriously. We have the impression that previous franchisees have asset stripped. We have been dumped on with out-of-date rolling stock, and capacity has never been properly considered. The key question is this: is she confident that Network Rail and the new franchisees will take this seriously? If they do not, one could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the Government do not have a priority.
Dr Coffey: I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. We have to be serious and we need to ensure that the Government are serious, so that when the new tender is put out for 2014, the very exacting standards that we are demanding, exemplified by the prospectus, are delivered. Nothing less than that will be good enough. My hon. Friend mentioned rolling stock, and I agree with him. I will come on to the issue of traveller experience later. Yesterday, some hon. Members were on the same train as me travelling to London Liverpool Street. I am convinced that they are the same trains I used to travel on as a student between Liverpool and London, back in the early ’90s. To simply recycle stock when, on average, our carriages are 25 years old, makes me wonder how old some of our stock actually is.