David Davis comments on announcement of Hull rail electrification funding


As Published in the Hull Daily Mail:
Campaigners confident electric rail network will power investment as next stage approved;
Business leaders and politicians have welcomed approval of the next stage of plans to electrify Hull’s rail system. Caroline Wheeler reports

The electrification of the city’s railway system will unleash Hull’s potential to attract millions of pounds of investment, business leaders say.

The Government has approved the next stage of plans after First Hull Trains, MPs, city councillors and business leaders united under the banner of the Mail’s Hook Up Hull campaign to bring electrification to the railway network in and out of Hull.

It will also link the city to the £50bn HS2 network to slash journey times south in the future.

Now, campaigners are celebrating after hearing Hull could get rail links fit for the 21st century in time for the UK City of Culture celebrations in 2017.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin confirmed the scheme would go ahead yesterday in Parliament when he announced funding of £2.5m for the next stage of the feasibility process, known as Grip3.

This further study will build on work already carried out by First Hull Trains and Network Rail to verify costs and time-scales.

Lord Haskins, chairman of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership welcomed the confirmation. “This is excellent news,” he said. “We have been working with First Hull Trains, Hull City Council and MPs on a way forward for this project and we are delighted the Secretary of State has found the money to develop the scheme to the point where it can, hopefully, be approved later this year.

“It’s a huge priority for the region to improve rail infrastructure to help realise the potential of the Energy Estuary and attract inward investment, as well as being prepared for visitors for UK City of Culture 2017.

“The electrification of the Hull to Selby line will not only improve journey times to London but also improve our connectivity with other northern cities on the cross-Pennine route, which is essential for the region to flourish.”

” Hull councillor Martin Mancey said: “I have yet to see the full details behind the Secretary of State’s statement but today”s announcement, while not an absolute commitment to implementing the scheme by 2017, does allow further work to be done and keeps alive the prospect of achieving implementation in time to meet the needs of the anticipated 12m visitors for the City of Culture year.

“We must continue to press hard for further progress on this vital project.” Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis hailed the shorter journey times to London electrification will bring – with up to 30 minutes expected to be shaved off each way.

The Conservative MP said: “This is excellent news and will shorten journey times between Hull and London.

“The strong campaign to secure this funding has succeeded and the Transport Secretary has made the right decision by investing in Hull and East Yorkshire by bringing truly modern rail services to the area, hopefully, in time for the UK City of Culture in 2017.

“With electrification will come new carriages with more seats and quieter engines, making journeys more comfortable for everyone.

“The new electric trains will also improve connections with the wider region to Doncaster, York, London and Leeds.”

Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart said electrification would provide a “top-quality transportation link” between the area and the rest of Britain and Europe.

The Tory MP said: “After numerous meetings with the Secretary of State for Transport and months of lobbying the Government to support this important scheme, I am pleased to hear that £2.5m has been allocated to enable rail electrification, faster journey times and improved rolling stock.

“Hull is an important transport centre for the entire East Riding and electrification will help provide a top-quality transportation link between our area and the rest of Britain and Europe.”

First Hull Trains had originally expected to hear before Christmas whether its £94m scheme to electrify the 70 miles of track between Hull and Selby would secure approval from the Government.

But it was not until yesterday – the day after Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget – that it was finally announced the scheme would be allowed to progress.

Mr McLoughlin made the announcement during transport questions on the floor of the House of Commons yesterday.

He said: “I am very pleased to be able to announce today that I can make available the £2.5m to take this project up to Grip3 and that notification will be going to Network Rail and to colleagues, who I shall be writing to today, saying that I am making the money available.”

Will Dunnett, managing director at First Hull Trains, said: “Electrification is a must-have for the region and will drive improvement to our rail services for many years to come with the promise of new rolling stock in time, better connectivity and faster services.

“I’d like to thank the supporters of this scheme and look forward to their continued backing as we move this project forward together in the months and years ahead.”

The Transport Secretary was told during a meeting last month the scheme was needed to accommodate the 12 million extra visitors who are expected to come to Hull during the 2017 UK City of Culture celebrations. Last night, Hull North MP Diana Johnson was seeking clarification that the work would be completed in time for 2017.

The Labour MP said: “We are still keen to get confirmation that today’s news guarantees that the work will happen before the 2017 UK City of Culture, as we know that the A63 road improvements will not happen in time.”

Up to £2.5m for feasibility study TRANSPORT Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, pictured, delivered the news everyone had been waiting for on the floor of the House of Commons yesterday morning.

Mr McLoughlin made the announcement in response to a question by Brigg and Goole MP Andrew Percy.

The Tory MP asked Mr McLoughlin for an update on railway electrification proposals during transport questions.

The Transport Secretary confirmed the Government is making up to £2.5m available for First Hull Trains to undertake the next stage of the Hull electrification feasibility work.

This will build on that already carried out by First Hull trains and Network Rail.

This further study is designed to give us the information required to verify costs and time-scales and confirm the business case to inform a subsequent “implementation decision”.

Speaking after the exchange in the Commons, Mr McLoughlin said: “We are committed to transforming our railways to provide better services for passengers and local businesses.

“Electrification means quicker, cleaner and more reliable journeys, so I can fully understand the desire to see this extended to Hull.

“That is why we are making up to £2.5m available for a feasibility study into the proposal.”

Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson, who led a delegation that met Mr McLoughlin to discuss the proposal last month, said: “This is precisely the news we were waiting for and means the delegation I led to meet the Transport Secretary was successful.

“It gives us the impetus and momentum to get the line beyond Selby electrified in time for 2017.”

Mr Percy said: “It is clear that electrification is going to happen and that it is going to progress.

“The next stage of the campaign is to make sure it all happens as quickly as possible.”

Hull is an important transport centre for the East Riding and electrification will provide a top-quality transportation link between our area and the rest of Britain and Europe MP Graham Stuart