Suffolk MPs press Ministers over rail franchise

Suffolk MPs Peter Aldous (Waveney) and Dan Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) today pressed Transport Ministers in the House of Commons to recognise the vital importance of the East Suffolk Line.

The two MPs both tabled questions answered by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond and Minister of State for Transport Theresa Villiers.

Mr Aldous asked:

“Will the Minister confirm that the review of the Greater Anglia franchise will recognise the vital importance of the East Suffolk line from Ipswich to Lowestoft, and the need for both an hourly service along the whole line and the reintroduction of through trains to London, which are being withdrawn in December?”

Dr Dan Poulter followed up in a Topical Question by asking the Minister:

“I thank the Minister of State for her earlier answer in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) in respect of recognising the importance of the East Suffolk line to the future prosperity of central and eastern Suffolk. Part of improving the infrastructure is a vital stretch of track called the Beccles loop, which would enable a future franchisee to run a full London to Lowestoft service. May we count on the Secretary of State’s support in pursuing the funding for that vital stretch of track?”

Mr Aldous and Dr Poulter are working together, along with the other Suffolk MPs, where issues cross the constituencies they represent and their constituents needs are best met by collaboration. Both believe strongly that good transport links to London are vital to the economic prosperity of the region.

The MPs are particularly concerned that a good rail service linking Lowestoft to London is vital to attract new jobs to North Suffolk.

Peter Aldous commented:

“I am pleased that we were able to re-emphasise the importance of the East Suffolk Line. We shall continue to do so in the lead up to the retendering of the rail franchise.”

FULL TEXT
Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): What progress has been made on the Government's review of rail franchising; and if he will make a statement. [10287]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mrs Theresa Villiers): I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave earlier.

Peter Aldous: Will the Minister confirm that the review of the Greater Anglia franchise will recognise the vital importance of the east Suffolk line from Ipswich to Lowestoft, and the need for both an hourly service along the whole line and the reintroduction of through trains to London, which are being withdrawn in December?

Mrs Villiers: My hon. Friend will appreciate that it would not be wise for me to start making timetabling decisions at the Dispatch Box. However, we are determined that the franchising reform, on which we will consult in the next few weeks, will deliver improvements for passengers, improve train operators' ability to respond flexibly to increases in passenger demand on particular routes and help deliver the private sector investment to provide vital enhancements to our railways.

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Dan Poulter's Question:

Dr Daniel Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) (Con): If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Philip Hammond): Since I last answered departmental questions, we have announced a new framework for the economic regulation of airports; our south-east airports taskforce has commenced work; we have announced the sale of High Speed 1; and we have launched a £15 million fund to incentivise the purchase of low-carbon buses. I have also prepared and submitted a spending review bid to the Treasury.

Dr Poulter: I thank the Minister of State for her earlier answer in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) in respect of recognising the importance of the East Suffolk line to the future prosperity of central and eastern Suffolk. Part of improving the infrastructure is a vital stretch of track called the Beccles loop, which would enable a future franchisee to run a full London to Lowestoft service. May we count on the Secretary of State's support in pursuing the funding for that vital stretch of track?

Mr Hammond: Any future proposals for rail enhancements will be considered in the usual way in setting the output requirements for control period 5, which will define Network Rail's investment programme from 2014 onwards.

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