Rail Disruption: Social and Economic Impacts

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Thursday 13th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I will not correct the record on that because I was trying to reassure people that the vast majority of train services are actually running throughout the country at this moment. Therefore, it is very important that people do not read the papers and think, “I can’t get on a train”. The most important thing is that you probably can, but check beforehand. However, it is also the case that we experience disruption on our railways periodically, sometimes due to strikes and sometimes to defects in the track—these are incredibly unfortunate. We do not want them to happen; we want our services to run as punctually and effectively as possible.

The operators are offering refunds and delay repay compensation for cancelled and delayed trains. There has been an enormous amount of collaboration with all the train operating companies: I pay particular tribute to CrossCountry rail, which has put on new services to Bristol and Swindon, a route on which it does not normally travel. Tickets are accepted by other train operating companies, and indeed some have offered support by offering rolling stock.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I hope the Minister can reassure me that the 7.30 am train from King’s Cross to Edinburgh will be running tomorrow. More generally and significantly, have there been discussions with the devolved Governments about the economic and transport consequences? Given the responsibilities of the Scottish Government in relation to rail services, what specific discussions does the Minister plan to have with them?

Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con)
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I wish I could reassure the noble Lord that the 7.30 will operate, but I am sure that the train operating companies are watching and will make sure that it does. I can reassure him that we always engage with our counterparts in the devolved Administrations in these circumstances. Priority has been given to resolving this at an operational level; it has been at an operational level that we have been collaborating. It is interesting to note that this issue has emerged also on the ScotRail class 385 fleet, with 10 out of the 70 units there experiencing a similar problem, but, thankfully, there has been no impact on services in Scotland.