The East Coast Main Line is “fragile” and needs investment which is flowing to lines serving other northern cities, a senior Network Rail boss has said.
Rob McIntosh, Network Rail’s managing director of the London-North East route, said the link between the likes of Leeds, Wakefield and Doncaster to London and Edinburgh had received half as much investment in renewing the railway as the West Coast Main Line serving Manchester.
It is also receiving “considerably less” investment than the Great Western Main Line from London to Bristol and is in need of cash to maintain passenger satisfaction.
He told the launch of a cross-party parliamentary group on East Coast, set up in the wake of the collapse of the Virgin East Coast-Stagecoach franchise which runs trains on the line, that everyone who uses it “knows there is room for improvement”, with infrastructure and trains “reaching the end of their design life”.
He echoed the calls of local, combined and transport authorities along the route for a “relatively modest sum” of investment compared to sums put into other lines to deliver economic benefits of up to £9bn.
All that needs to happen is for existing railway ‘money go round’ to be amended to allow any investor to get a reasonable return on their investment.Rob McIntosh, Network Rail
And he suggested the complicated nature of the railway industry was making it more difficult to get investment, telling MPs and peers: “All that needs to happen is for existing railway ‘money go round’ to be amended to allow any investor to get a reasonable return on their investment.”
Julian Sturdy, Conservative MP for York Outer, joined several Labour colleagues in warning that reliability was getting worse on the line.
“We’re getting more and more delays and those delays that we’re getting are longer,” he said.