The UK has seen rail journeys increase to 1.8 billion a year, from 760 million journeys in 1995.
Locally we have seen an ongoing series of improvements to the Leeds – Harrogate – York line, but nationally the talk is all about HS2 and a cost of over £100billion
- Phase 1, London to West Midlands with an expected completion date between 2028 and 2031
- Phase 2a, West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester with an expected completion date between 2035 and 2040
- Phase 2b, West Midlands to Crewe with an expected completion date between 2035 and 2040
The new Azuma trains are heralding more direct trains. These trains are gradually coming into service over this year, when passengers will begin to see reduced travel times to London.
Andrew Jones said:
Rail is a big challenge in the UK and HS2 is about putting capacity back into the network for now and the future.
The number of journeys per year has increased by over one billion since 1995 and to deal with that and cater for future demand we need to increase capacity, both for passengers and freight. It is important to get more freight on rail to meet carbon emission targets.
During the 1960’s the UK saw cuts to the rail network with the Beeching cuts putting a focus onto the major trunk routes.
There has not been a new rail line built in England north of London since the reign of Queen Victoria, yet there are now 140,000 services each week, that is the highest level it has ever been.
The cost of HS2 is likely to be over £100billion, is that sensible spend ?
Andrew Jones said:
It is a huge sum of money, but it needs to be put into perspective for what it will achieve for the country. The rail network needs investment to meet the growing demand for capacity and also to be able to meet our carbon emission targets.
The current rail network already has an investment programme of £48 billion between 2019 and 2024 and there will of course be investment onwards from there.
In the House of Commons I asked the Prime Minister and had it confirmed that the government is buying into, not just HS2, but better rolling stock and better, digital signalling.
I am supporting, not just better North – South connection, also the East – West, Trans-Pennine routes.
But this is about increasing productivity and national wealth. Other countries are seeing the benefit of rail investment today and historically the UK has seen that too.
People have had enough of politicians just talking and we need to invest and make it happen.
Electrification of the Leeds – Harrogate – Line is often talked about, what’s your view on that ?
Andrew Jones MP said:
I first talked about this back in 1999, but since then things have evolved.
I campaigned for it as then it was the only way to get the improvements we needed – more local services, direct London trains, upgraded rolling stock. And we have seen our rail service transform with these things being delivered.
New technology has helped in a way not possible then, with bi-mode trains, such as the new Azuma trains, which can draw power from both diesel and electric, that means the immediate need to electrify has changed.
But as part of decarbonisation, we need to work towards a fully sustainable rail system, recognising that will not mean full electrification but bi-modes and hydrogen powered trains operating with fully electric ones.
In the near future locally we will see work on signalling, and the NYCC funded scheme to increase capacity on the Harrogate to York section.