Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dishonest debate about worsening rail services in Wales

Rail Services
House of Commons debates Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Q. Will he take steps to ensure that there is a frequent railway service from all parts of the
UK. What a pity he couldn’t answer the question.

Tom Harris (Hawk, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport First MP in Glasgow to have his own blog)
New franchise agreements specify a minimum service level that takes account of demand and network capacity. Bidders can propose more services, where that is operationally practicable. There are also provisions to deal with the need for extra trains during the life of a franchise.

Q. .
Tom Harris (Hawk, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport First MP in Glasgow to have his own blog)
What can my hon. Friend do to ensure that
First Great Western provides a good reliable service into Wales in view of the fact that the 3.15 pm from Paddington now stops at Cardiff and does not go on to Swansea? The 7.3 am from Bristol to Cardiff and Swansea has been taken off altogether. What can he do to ensure that a better service is provided for Wales?

A, The 17.18 Cardiff to Swansea service run by
First Great Western is a matter for the company: I do not have the authority to intervene in that matter and insist that that particular service is reinstated. However, the Department will continue to monitor passenger numbers on that route. I am told by First Great Western that capacity on alternative services run by Arriva Trains Wales is sufficient to accommodate passenger numbers on that line.

Adam Price
Adam Price (Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, Plaid Cymru) The discontinuation of the 17.18 from Cardiff to Swansea is an absolute disaster for passengers in Swansea and west Wales. In the new cross-country franchise in Scotland, the Government have stipulated the continuation of intercity routes, so why did they not specify routes to Swansea and west Wales in the case of First Great Western?

Tom Harris (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport) Link to this Hansard source
The hon. Gentleman is being slightly unfair in trying to draw distinctions between the devolved Administrations. When the timetable for that service was put out for consultation by First Great Western, it attracted very few public responses and I do not think that the hon. Gentleman responded to that change.