Grayling promises to honour East Coast rail pledge over extra services

The future of the East Coast Main Line is in doubt.
The future of the East Coast Main Line is in doubt.
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PROMISES to expand the number of trains operating on the East Coast Main Line between Yorkshire and London will be met, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has pledged.

The Cabinet minister gave the assurance following growing concerns about the early termination of the Virgin and Stagecoach-operated franchise.

His intervention comes after West Yorkshire political and business leaders reminded Mr Grayling last weekend that Leeds, York, Dewsbury, Bradford, Huddersfield, Shipley, Horsforth and Harrogate were all due to be serviced by extra trains from May next year under the terms of the franchise.

Though Mr Grayling snubbed Tuesday’s debate in the House of Commons on transport spending, he was present in Parliament yesterday for departmental questions when he was challenged by Bradford West MP Imran Hussain.

“Next year, Bradford would have seen a marked increase in the number of much-needed direct inter-city trains serving the city, but the chaos with the East Coast line has put that in serious doubt,” he said.

“These extra trains are vital to improving Bradford’s connection to the rest of the country, so will the Minister commit to ensuring that, whatever happens to the East Coast franchise, Bradford will see an increase in the number of direct trains?”

This commitment was given by Mr Grayling as he reviews the future operation of the line which has now seen three franchises collapse in just over a decade.

“It is my intention that, whatever arrangements are put in place for the next few years, the service improvements that have been promised will be delivered,” he said in response to Mr Hussain.

“We face an issue on infrastructure and additional capacities on the northern part of the route, which will have to be resolved and may mean some amendments to the timetable for new services, but that will not stop us delivering those new services. In Bradford’s case, I am expecting to be able to fulfil the commitments that were made.”