On 23rd January 2019 Lord Teverson asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to improve rail service reliability in 2019.” The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, the latest quarterly statistics released from the Office of Rail and Road show that the London North Eastern Railway has suffered its worst punctuality levels in over a decade and came second—not an honour—on the list of the 10 worst train services for punctuality. As my noble friend Lord Cormack said, we had hopes for the new Azuma trains, but there is a lack of investment in infrastructure in the north—the signalling systems north of York are over 30 years old. Will the Minister tell us when the necessary infrastructure works will take place in order for these trains to run as they should to serve the people of the north-east and Scotland?
Baroness Sugg: My Lords, we hope that the introduction of the trains will happen soon. There remain challenges relating to electromagnetic compatibility, ORR approvals and train design. Obviously, the delay is disappointing for everybody involved, but we should not lose sight of the benefits of this £2.7 billion investment. Each train will have around 15% greater capacity and, once the full fleet is in service, the upgraded timetable will deliver a 28% increase in capacity, so we look forward to their introduction.