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Ministerial Corrections

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Transport

Rail Network (Disruption)

The following are extracts from the responses made by the Secretary of State for Transport to the Urgent Question on Monday 5 January 2015.

Mr Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend accept that the investment in financial terms and in the work done on improving and upgrading our rail network is warmly welcomed, but that the other side of coin is that there is a responsibility through Network Rail to ensure minimal disruption to commuters and passengers—not simply during key holiday periods but on every other weekend of the year—who too often hear on a Monday morning about the overrunning of engineering works and cancelled services? What can be done to hold Network Rail more to account to minimise such problems?

Mr McLoughlin: I agree with my right hon. Friend. The problem happens when we are doing the sort of massive upgrade to the system that we are doing. Over the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, some £38.5 billion will be spent on upgrading the railway infrastructure, and some of that will lead to delays through overrunning engineering works. I know that particular problems have affected my right hon. Friend’s constituency over some weekends, and I think we should look further to see whether there is a better way of doing the engineering work. Let me point out that 18 months ago, over a period of eight weeks, Nottingham station was closed down while 2,000 people were working on it. That is sometimes an option, but when we are talking about the main London termini, that is really not an option.

[Official Report, 5 January 2015, Vol. 590, c. 26.]

Letter of correction from Mr McLoughlin:

An error has been identified in the answer I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns).

The correct response should have been:

Mr McLoughlin: I agree with my right hon. Friend. The problem happens when we are doing the sort of massive upgrade to the system that we are doing. Over the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, some £38 billion will be spent on upgrading the railway infrastructure, and some of that will lead to delays through overrunning engineering works. I know that particular problems have affected my right hon. Friend’s constituency over some weekends, and I think we should look further to see whether there is a better way of doing the engineering work. Let me point out that 18 months ago, over a period of eight weeks, Nottingham station was closed down while 2,000 people were working on it. That is sometimes an option, but when we are talking about the main London termini, that is really not an option.


An error has been identified in the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Wrexham (Ian Lucas).

Ian Lucas (Wrexham) (Lab): We have heard much rhetoric from the Secretary of State about additional investment in the railways. In December, did not his Department, under his direction, cancel the investment

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in phases 1 and 2 of modular signalling improvements in north Wales? Will he confirm that he has authorised that?

Mr McLoughlin: What I will confirm is that we are investing some £38 billion in the railways, which is more than any previous Government have invested. In 13 years, Labour electrified 10 miles of track. We will be electrifying more than 800 miles, which is a record of which this Government are incredibly proud.

[Official Report, 5 January 2015, Vol. 590, c. 33.]

The correct response should have been:

Mr McLoughlin: What I will confirm is that we are investing some £38 billion in the railways, which is more than any previous Government have invested. In 13 years, Labour electrified 10 miles of track. We will be electrifying more than 850 miles, which is a record of which this Government are incredibly proud.


An error has been identified in the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne).

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab): What lessons has the Secretary of State learned from this sorry episode over the Christmas period? Does he recognise that the frustration comes not just from cancellations and long delays but from the complexity of the compensation system, with different train companies applying different terms and conditions? There are also times when people end up on a rail replacement bus having paid top fares for a rail journey.

Mr McLoughlin: The hon. Gentleman asks a number of questions. I will try to answer them all. The new franchises I am issuing have changed the way in which compensation is awarded, and they are a great improvement on those awarded by the previous Government. He also asked me about bus replacement services. If he wants us to carry out improvements on the network, alternatives have to be made available. I accept that our changes and improvements are an issue, but we are investing a record £38.5 billion in the railways between 2014 and 2019.

[Official Report, 5 January 2015, Vol. 590, c. 34.]

The correct response should have been.

Mr McLoughlin: The hon. Gentleman asks a number of questions. I will try to answer them all. The new franchises I am issuing have changed the way in which compensation is awarded, and they are a great improvement on those awarded by the previous Government. He also asked me about bus replacement services. If he wants us to carry out improvements on the network, alternatives have to be made available. I accept that our changes and improvements are an issue, but we are investing a record £38 billion in the railways between 2014 and 2019.


An error has been identified in the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Diana Johnson).

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): After the Christmas shambles, I was pleased to see that the chief executive of Network Rail voluntarily said that he would not take his bonus of £34,000. Has the

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Secretary of State considered introducing performance-related pay for rail bosses, in the same way as his Government advocate it for teachers?

Mr McLoughlin: I do not think I will take too many lessons from the Labour party about bonuses. In 2009-10, the bonuses paid to Network Rail were £2.3 billion; this year, it was going to be £260,000. I think there should be carrots and sticks, and, if the criteria set are met, a bonus is a way of rewarding the people directly involved in providing services.

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[Official Report, 5 January 2015, Vol. 590, c. 36.]

The correct response should have been:

Mr McLoughlin: I do not think I will take too many lessons from the Labour party about bonuses. In 2009-10, the bonuses paid to Network Rail were £2.3 million; this year, it was going to be £260,000. I think there should be carrots and sticks, and, if the criteria set are met, a bonus is a way of rewarding the people directly involved in providing services.