Council representatives from right across the East Coast Mainline (ECML) met the Minister of State for Transport in London today, to discuss how they might work together throughout the franchise process and in developing investment plans for the line.
Cllr James Alexander, leader of City of York Council and Kersten England, Chief Executive of City of York Council were among the lead authorities to meet the Rt Hon Simon Burns MP at the Department of Transport.
The meeting saw agreement for further discussion around the franchise, the selection of a new operator and investment in the development of key sites up and down the line.
Cllr James Alexander commented: “Today’s discussion with the Minister was a positive start to a closer working partnership with the DfT throughout the franchise process and in building a business case for further investment in key sites along the line, which could significantly improve its capacity, reliability and connectivity.
“We welcome the £240 million investment committed by Government earlier this year, but as already identified by the rail industry, this is only half of what is needed. In being at the table when discussions on the future of the ECML take place, we can look to work with the DfT to maximise the value of this and any further investments made.”
Transport Minister Simon Burns said: “We have experienced unprecendented growth in the popularity of rail travel in recent years which is why we are investing in increasing capacity across the entire network. It is vital that passengers using the East Coast Main Line benefit from this, which is why we have committed £240m in the future of this line.
“The meeting I had with the East Coast Main Line Group was very infomative and productive and I look forward to the ideas for improving services on the line that they generate.”
The ECML Group represent’s 19 authorities and first met in October, which coincided with the Department of Transport’s (DfT) announcement that the ECML franchising would not be put on hold, to ensure that those authorities along the line join forces to present a strong position to government and call for improvements to its infrastructure, in line with increasing visitor and commercial demand.
The group discussed a Joint Statement and Memorandum of Understanding with the Minister, expected to be agreed in the next few weeks.
In strongly supporting York’s call for a collaborative approach, the length of the line and across the political spectrum, the group will continue to meet to identify joint priorities for investment across the line to work with the DfT, and to push forward a collective position on the ECML improvements.
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