Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Good to see my Campaign to Electrify the Tyne Valley Line is getting support

The Tyne Valley Line will only truly prosper if it is electrified. I am making the case to the Secretary of State for Transport and local organisations are getting behind the campaign. I have had a very good submission buy the Tyne Valley Rail Users Group and now the NCC have got behind the campaign which is good.
I held a debate on this issue in September in the House of Commons

The crucial passage on electrification is here:
Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough, Conservative)
I am really enjoying my hon. Friend’s speech and he has a well-deserved reputation as a local champion. I chair the Government’s electrification taskforce. Will he meet me outside this place to go through his proposals, so that I know much more about what is necessary for the line and can take his proposals forward within the taskforce?

Guy Opperman (Hexham, Conservative)
One of the best advances of the Secretary of State has been the creation of the electrification taskforce, and I am glad that a northern MP—in this case, the Member for Harrogate—is leading the way, such that we can make representations. The longer term must see electrification of the Tyne Valley line, as it sits between the east coast line and the west coast line, both of which are electrified. Frankly, without that forward movement we will struggle in the longer term, so I will meet my hon. Friend, as will other Members interested in this area, and I genuinely welcome his intervention.

Subsequently I have met Andrew Jones MP and as a result sent this letter to
      -         the  NE LEP
    -          Cumbria LEP
    -          NECC
    -          CUMBRIA Chamber of Commerce
    -          John Stevenson MP
    -          Tyne Valley Rail Users Group
    -          Northumberland County Council
    -          Cumbria County Council
     -          Northern Rail

 "As the MP for Hexham I have been making the case for improvement of the Tyne Valley Railway Line. It is crucial to the connectivity and future prosperity of the far North of our country. The key improvement would be electrification of the line. The line is 59 miles long between the two cities but this takes around 1 hour 30 minutes to traverse. Electrification would improve the speeds considerably. It is a key freight and commuter and tourist route that is vital to the future of the North and crucially it sits between the electrified East Coast Mainline and the electrified West Coast Mainline.  

The government has set up the Electrification Task Force to take submissions on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport. It is a cross party group of MPs, led by Andrew Jones, the MP for Harrogate. The MPs are assisted by DFT, Network Rail and have some back office support.

I have raised this case for electrification in parliament, most notably on the 3rd September 2014 in the debate on Transport Infrastructure in Northumberland, the transcript of which is here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2014-09-03b.399.0&s=%28transport%29+speaker%3A24962#g399.2 
I have today had that follow up meeting with Andrew Jones MP in the House of Commons and set out our plans in more detail. We have discussed the way ahead and he has made it clear to me that the door is still open to receive representations on this issue, albeit time is critical.

It is crucial that the case for electrification is made on a number of levels. I have therefore sent this letter to [The list of recipients above]. 

All, or some, of you may already have made a representation on this issue. If so, then please send me a copy so I can bring all submissions together. If you have not then please do so by Mid-November. It does not need to be long but a supportive 2 page letter would make a difference. If you can do a longer and more detailed submission this would be helpful.

Could you address your representations direct to:
Andrew Jones MP, Electrification Task Force, House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
And copy me in at the House of Commons as well.

The criteria which this is being judged upon are numerous, but it is specifically not limited to ease of engineering as per Network Rail approach. The Group are particularly focusing on the:
-          the impact on the economy
-          and the case for connectivity.

If you have any doubts or issues then please feel free to contact my office in London on the number below but I stress that time is of the essence. It may be that you can expand upon your representations at a later date but I would be keen for those outline representations to be with the team by mid-November.”

Yours ever,
Guy Opperman MP

The Journal reports the story today here:
I am still chasing a couple of the submissions but am really pleased the NCC are on board.