An old HST braving the storms at Dawlish
An old HST braving the storms at Dawlish
  • Luke Pollard MP’s campaign for Dawlish-proof trains on the CrossCountry franchise takes a step closer to success with “strongest hint yet” that Ministers will agree to transfer spare rolling stock to this route
  • Government preparing to announce extension of current rail franchise for CrossCountry

Luke Pollard’s campaign for more High Speed Trains (Intercity 125s) to be brought into the Cross Country franchise to provide Dawlish-proof services to and from the far south west have taken a step forward with the Minister confirming the Government is looking at adding trains to the franchise.

In an answer to a written question tabled by Plymouth MP, Luke Pollard, the new Rail Minister confirmed improvements to the CrossCountry franchise “could include CrossCountry bringing additional trains into their fleet as suitable trains become available.”.

Luke has been lobbying Ministers for trains that are able to get through Dawlish in bad weather after a series of high profile breakdowns of CrossCountry’s current Voyager rolling stock that short circuit when exposed to salt water. This lasting technical problem with these trains means CrossCountry cancels train services to and from Plymouth in bad weather along the Dawlish line.

Luke Pollard MP said:

“Plymouth doesn’t get its fair share of transport funding and that needs to change. One way Ministers could help us do that is by transferring Intercity 125s into the CrossCountry rail franchise that are not being used on other routes. These trains would provide Dawlish-proof trains for the far south west and a boost for jobs at the GWR depot at Laira where CrossCountry’s current HST train fleet is maintained. It is a win-win for the company and the region and I want to see Ministers hurry up and make this announcement.”

“These extra trains would help address the false perception that the south west is closed for business in bad weather. The Minister’s reply to my latest question on this matter is the strongest hint yet that this campaign will be a success and Plymouth will be getting Dawlish-proof trains on the CrossCountry route when the Government extends this rail franchise later this year. I will keep pushing for Plymouth to get the improved train service we deserve so we can fulfil our potential as a city.”

Below is a copy of the question Luke asked:

Luke Pollard:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the provision of East Coast High Speed Trains will be included in the new Cross Country trains franchise. (287611)

Tabled on: 05 September 2019

Chris Heaton-Harris:

The current CrossCountry franchise runs to October 2020. We are working with CrossCountry on a number of options that could provide additional capacity over the next few years for passengers using the CrossCountry network. This could include CrossCountry bringing additional trains into their fleet as suitable trains become available in the rolling stock market.

Answered on: 09 September 2019

More info can be found here.

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