21 Jan 2008 : Column 19P

21 Jan 2008 : Column 19P


Monday 21 January 2008


Rail Services (Kettering)

The Humble Petition of Mr Christopher Croome of Kettering Rail Users and others,


That East Midlands Trains, part of The Stagecoach group, proposes, in December 2008, to cut, from present levels, the number of weekday passenger trains from Kettering to London by 5%, the number of weekday passenger trains from London to Kettering by 18% and the number of weekday passenger trains from London to Kettering by 30% in the evening peak, whilst halving the main passenger rail service northbound from Kettering.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges Her Majesty's Department of Transport to call upon East Midlands Trains in its proposed timetable to reinstate these services together with fast and semi-fast services to and from London and a far more frequent service northbound so as to restore Kettering's inter-city rail service and provide the Borough of Kettering with the rail service it needs to serve a rapidly expanding population.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c. —[Presented by Mr. Philip Hollobone , Official Report, 17 December 2007; Vol. 469, c.674.] [P000090]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

The new East Midlands Trains franchise came into operation on 11 November 2007. As set out in the department's Press Release of 22 June 2007, the new franchise will deliver:

Additional off-peak services on the Midland Mainline

9% increase in peak capacity into and out of London St Pancras

New East Midlands Parkway station to be serviced by 2 trains an hour

21 Jan 2008 : Column 20P

Reductions in journey time Sheffield, Derby and London

Improved performance

Matlock and Derby services extended to Nottingham

£5 million investment in station improvements

During October 2007, East Midlands Trains consulted widely on their proposals for the December 2008 timetable. Having taken due consideration of responses to that consultation, they will carry out a bidding process with Network Rail. The new Franchise Agreement specifies a minimum level of service on all routes and East Midlands Trains must certify to the Department that in bidding for the December 2008 timetable it is compliant with the level of service we have specified.

Overall the proposed new December 2008 timetable will deliver an increase in capacity on the Midland mainline with East Midlands Trains planning to run five trains per hour between London and the East Midlands / South Yorkshire for most of the day, Monday to Saturdays, an increase from the four per hour which run today. The changes to the mainline services that affect Kettering are a result of a number of factors, and supported by consultation responses and train passenger loading data.

Long distance passenger demand on the whole Midland Mainline route is strong and current growth is expected to continue. Without service pattern changes, commuters from intermediate stations such as Kettering will find themselves trying to join full trains with little prospect of finding a seat—especially in the morning peak. The solution is to create a distinct London to Kettering service. With trains starting in Kettering, this will provide significantly more commuter seats while simultaneously facilitating fewer stops in the long distance trains, improving journey times between Sheffield and London by up to 12 minutes. A consequence of the provision of this increased capacity is pressure on East Midlands Trains rolling stock fleet, and track capacity on the main line. Having noticed the low patronage of the current Northbound services from Kettering, where seats provided were significantly in excess of demand, this mismatch has been rectified through a reduction in service frequency that better matches demand. In summary, while the frequency of service to Kettering will reduce, the capacity provided is being significantly increased, providing a better quality journey for all users of the services on the route.

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