Michael Fabricant questioned the Rail Minister today (Thursday 22nd October) about the future of express services to London and the North on the West Coast Main Line following completion of HS2.
In the House of Commons, Michael asked the Rail Minister, Andrew Stephenson who had said in answer to Michael’s written question that fast services would be maintained: “While I’m grateful for that answer, which actually is very different from what was told to me by HS2 when I had a meeting with them recently, Lichfield is one of over 20 stations along the West Coast Mainline that won’t be served by HS2; the nearest station will be half an hour or more away.
“At the moment we’ve got the tilting Pendolinos, which are very fast, but HS2 told me that when they are phased out, they won’t be replaced by any fast train, and the West Coast Mainline will only be used for slow commuting trains. So can the Minister now assure me that HS2 at that meeting got it wrong, and that stations like Lichfield Trent Valley will still have a fast service down to London once HS2 is completed?”
Minister Andrew Stephenson answered: “I am always happy to provide reassurance to my Honourable Friend – fast inter-city trains will continue to run on the West Coast Mainline once HS2 opens. One of the key aims for future service patterns is that all towns or cities which currently have a direct service to London, will retain broadly comparable or better services once HS2 is completed.”
Michael now says: “I am reassured by that answer. I am most concerned that when the Pendolino trains are phased out when they reach the end of their working life, they are replaced by an equivalent or faster service in the 2030s. This will need to be planned for this decade. While it is early days, I know that no such planning has yet started so I will continue to scrutinise the Department for Transport. Lichfield’s economy depends on fast connections with the capital and the North and I do not want to see any deterioration of that service.”