Thursday, 11 October 2018

Rail: a moral victory

Extract from Hansard of yesterday:

Bill Presented
Railways (Franchises) Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Tim Farron, supported by Sir Edward Davey and Tom Brake, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to terminate a rail passenger services franchise agreement in certain circumstances; to repeal section 25 of the Railways Act 1993; to make provision for local franchising authorities in England; and for connected purposes.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 23 November, and to be printed (Bill 271).
The Bill was inspired by an extreme instance of a train operator not fulfilling its contractual duties, namely, running trains. The Lakes Line runs (or should run) in Tim Farron's constituency and he explained its vital significance here. Northern's response to criticism was to restore some trains to the Lakes Line but at the expense of the Furness Line, which it also runs.

As I say, an extreme case but one which will resonate with other rail users. Tim's Bill has practically no chance of even being debated, but the fact that he was able to gain a second reading without objection shows that there is widespread sympathy in the House with the feeling that backsliding train operators should be replaced expeditiously. If the current Minister for Transport, Chris Grayling, does not act on this, then the PM should replace him with someone more proactive.

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