A video of John's intervention, during the rail electrification debate, to ask Ministers why Bristol, as one of the most economically important cities in the UK, is again being overlooked in favour of others...
The second intervention by John, where he presses the case for electrification of Weston’s rail service to Bristol, after Ministers announced that other projects have been delayed. John asks that the Minister provide cost-benefit ratios of the delayed projects so local people can compare them to electrifying our local line...
John Penrose: I want to pick up on my hon. Friend’s earlier point about the south-west not always being at the front of the queue for such things. Bristol is, I think, the fastest-growing core city outside London, and therefore has a huge economic benefit to bring to the country. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is strange, therefore, that other areas have been given preference on the list for electrification? The deferral also includes the deferral of some of the Thames valley commuter lines and some of the lines to ?Oxford. Would it not now be sensible to re-examine the business case for the electrification of some of the lines radiating out from Bristol, on the basis that the economic case for Bristol’s economic zone must make it more attractive? That would go some way towards addressing the relatively low priority that Bristol and the south-west have previously been afforded.
Charlotte Leslie: If Hansard could kindly ascribe my hon. Friend’s comments to me I would be very grateful, because that is exactly the point I want to make. Yes, it does seem strange. It plays to a historical view that the south-west is always overlooked. I do not understand why we seem to have been axed when other places still seem to be a political priority. On the economic arguments, that does not make sense.
John Penrose: Can the Minister reassure us that as a result of the deferral that he has just described, the cost-benefit ratio of the elements of the programme that have been paused will not be substantially changed? ?Can he also provide us with information about how those cost-benefit ratios compare with both the decision not to go ahead at all with the electrification of the suburban Bristol railway lines and things that are going ahead, such as High Speed 2?
Paul Maynard: There will always be ongoing recalculations of the cost-benefit ratios of any wider projects, as well as the elements within them. I do not see this as a matter of HS2 or the great western main line. There are investment backlogs that we have to catch up on in all parts of the country, and each investment has to respond to a specific rail need in that region. Here, we are trying to respond to a specific rail need by ensuring that all the passenger benefits that can be accrued by electrification can be delivered as soon as possible for the use of the new bi-mode intercity express programme trains.
John Penrose: rose—
Paul Maynard: If the hon. Gentleman wants to intervene, it will have to be the final occasion.
John Penrose: That is very reassuring. I would be very happy if the Minister would provide the specific numbers that I asked for, perhaps in a letter.