Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government & the Regions has announced that he will not be awarding the new franchise for the East Coast Main Line now.
Instead it is proposed that the existing franchise will be extended for two years, and that the new franchise will not start until April 2005.
Gavin Strang, MP for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh said today:
‘This is very disappointing news for Scotland.
‘Scotland needs new investment in the track and improvements to rail services now. Here in East Lothian and Edinburgh we are especially interested in the new Musselburgh Parkway station promised by one of the bidders for the new franchise.
‘There was a very strong case for awarding the new franchise promptly.
Firstly for environmental reasons. We must encourage more people to use the train on this route rather than fly or drive.
Secondly for economic reasons. The future prosperity of Scotland will depend on a decent transport infrastructure, and we need heavy investment in the rail system. Here in Edinburgh and the Lothians we were depending particularly on the East Coast Main Line.
‘The new franchise would have enabled the successful bidder to get on with the job of investing in the East Coast Main Line and improving services.
‘It is a great disappointment that this important work has been held back.’
Gavin Strang, MP for East Edinburgh and Musselburgh, has written to Stephen Byers MP, Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government & the Regions.
Following a series of delays to the awarding of the new franchise for the East Coast Mainline, the Strategic Rail Authority has put a recommendation to the Secretary of State.
In his letter Gavin Strang says that the necessary decision should now be taken by the Secretary of State, in order that the successful bidder can get on with the work.
The text of Gavin Strang’s letter follows.
‘As Member of Parliament for East Edinburgh and Musselburgh, I have taken a close interest in the East Coast Main Line and the on-going refranchising process.
‘The future investment in the East Coast Main Line should be good news for East Edinburgh and Musselburgh. In particular, I am a great supporter of the proposed Musselburgh Parkway station. An enhanced station should be a major benefit for people travelling into Edinburgh – including the growing number of commuters – and I am keen to see an enhanced service on the North Berwick line currently served by Scotrail.
‘As you will be aware, however, the refranchising process has suffered a series of set-backs, and there is degree of impatience for progress to be made.
‘It seems to me that there is a strong case for taking the necessary decisions now, in order that the successful bidder can begin work on the investment needed in the infrastructure and services on the East Coast Main Line without further delay.’