Fabricant challenges Transport Secretary
Michael Fabricant sought reassurance from the Secretary of State for Transport yesterday (19th April) in the House of Commons regarding the future for train services on the West Coast Mainline once HS2 is completed.
“I and commuters have been worried with talk about more freight traffic being shifted onto the West Coast Mainline at the expense of passenger services. But over 40 stations along the West Coast Mainline – including Lichfield and Tamworth – will not be served by HS2” Michael says.
Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary answered Michael in Parliament: “Once High Speed 2 comes into operation it will move the express trains off the existing west coast main line and on to the new route. That will provide a great opportunity to improve services to intermediate stops such as Lichfield that do not have a good enough service at the moment.”
But Michael was worried with use of the phrase “it will move the express trains off the existing west coast main line” and wanted further clarification as the Pendolino tilting trains are the express service. So Michael said:
“I am only slightly reassured by that answer. The Secretary of State talks about moving express trains off the west coast main line, but of course we currently have a very good Pendolino service and the slower West Midlands trains. Several hundred of my constituents commute to London every single day. What assurance can the Secretary of State give them that the Pendolino service—a fast, express service—will continue, and indeed that the Pendolinos will be replaced with equally fast trains when they come to the end of their life cycle?”
“The new plans will provide an opportunity for more trains to stop at Lichfield.”
Chris Grayling replied: “The Pendolinos have many years to go, and I have no doubt that they will be replaced by a high-quality fast train in the future. My hon. Friend will have stood on the platform at Lichfield station and seen trains to Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland zooming past at high speed. The new plans will provide an opportunity for more trains to stop at Lichfield.”
“That was a good clear answer” says Michael. “It has reassured me and, I hope, my constituents.”