During yesterday’s (Tuesday) Westminster Hall debate on Regional Transport Infrastructure Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Robert Seely raised the issue of the Island’s ferry duopoly, the age of Island Line carriages and the speed of train travel from Southampton and Portsmouth to London.
Seely: “Most expensive ferry route in the world”
The Isle of Wight MP started,
“First, I would love Ministers to look at the ferry duopoly on the Solent.
“It is the most expensive ferry route in the world, and many issues that relate to the ownership of the two ferry companies are not necessarily in the public interest and help to sustain the very high fares that Islanders are forced to pay.
“There is also the issue of the debt that is loaded on to at least one of those companies.”
New rolling stock for Island Line
The MP went on to talk about Island Line how important it is for Islanders.
“Secondly, Island Line is not the longest railway line in the world, but it is nevertheless the line from Ryde Pier Head down to Shanklin, which is very important for Islanders.
“At the moment, travelling on Island Line is almost the rail equivalent of travelling in a Land Rover over a reasonably rough bridleway. It needs significant infrastructure work on the track, signalling and rolling stock.
“There was something approaching uproar when we learnt that Newcastle’s rolling stock was 40 years old. Without sounding like something out of a Monty Python sketch, what I would give for rolling stock that is 40 years old!
“We have ten Northern line carriages from 1938. As part of the modernisation for the priced option, if the Minister is generous enough, we will get refurbished 40-year-old rolling stock, which we will be more than happy with—it will be 41 years younger than the 81-year-old rolling stock we currently have. I hope I can press my hon. Friend the Minister to be generous.”
London-Portsmouth express train slower in 1920s
Bob concluded by raising issues relating to train line to London from Southampton and Portsmouth,
“Finally, I want to mention Southern railway. I really hope that HS2 is not diverting funds to every other rail project in the country. We should have proceeded with HS3, the northern high-speed railway, which is, as the Americans say, a no-brainer, rather than build a £100 billion route from London to Birmingham, which I am not sure we need—perhaps some of my colleagues disagree. Because of that, I am concerned that the main line routes to Portsmouth and Southampton will not get the attention they deserve.
“What I find most staggering is the speed of the London to Portsmouth express train service: currently 47 miles an hour, which is slower than it was in the 1920s. Will the Minister look at some of the examples of where a little bit of impetus from him and the Department for Transport would reap real benefits for our economy in the Southampton-Portsmouth conurbation, and especially in my constituency?”
You can watch Bob’s speech below.
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