Transport Committee restates need for East Coast Mainline rail improvement commitment

West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee today reiterated the organisation’s call for a commitment to the improvement for local services despite the collapse of the current franchise.

New, direct weekday services from Dewsbury and Huddersfield to London and a significant increase in direct services between Leeds, York, Shipley, Bradford Forster Square, Horsforth, Harrogate and the capital are among the commitments included in the set out in the existing InterCity East Coast franchise.

Economic improvements

In February, the Combined Authority wrote to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling asking him to guarantee the improvements will be delivered despite the franchise’s expected termination. Signed by Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair Cllr Keith Wakefield and Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the Combined Authority, the letter highlighted the economic importance of the improvements which, they said, support their inclusive economic growth agenda.

Cllr Eric Firth Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee and one of the Combined Authority’s representatives on the Consortium of East Coast Main Line Authorities said today: “Businesses in our region have been building these improvements to services between our towns and cities and London into their future planning only to see them thrown into doubt by another failure in the rail franchising system.

“We will be calling on the Transport Secretary to ensure these important service commitments, due for delivery in the May 2019 timetable change, are honoured.”

Need for investment

Today’s Transport Committee meeting also backed a proposed response to Network Rail’s East Coast Mainline (ECML) route study consultation underlining the importance of ECML to Leeds City Region. The draft response stresses the need for immediate and future investment to provide the capacity and network capability the City Region requires to achieve modal shift for passengers and freight.

Cllr Firth, who will be attending the first meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the East Coast Main Line on Tuesday 20 March, added: “We need to make clear in our response that strategic rail planning is vital to achieving the Combined Authority’s objective of inclusive growth and that we need improvements such as such as four-tracking between Wakefield and Doncaster and capacity to optimise the benefits of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.”

The meeting also agreed Combined Authority contributions of £10,000 for the next two years to support the Consortium of East Coast Main Line Authorities. The Consortium works on behalf of its 41 members to secure investment, improve the passenger experience, improve capacity and reliability and shorten journey times on the East Coast Main Line.

 

16 Mar 2018

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