David Mundell MP has called for an increase in mainline service provision at Lockerbie station in response to a consultation on the renewal of the West Coast Rail franchise. Mr Mundell has also called on the Department for Transport to ensure that local trains have greater capacity for passengers using Lockerbie stations.
Commenting after responding to the Department for Transport InterCity West Coast Draft Invitation to Tender (ITT) consultation, Mr Mundell said: “The decisions that are made now on the parameters for the new West Coast Mainline rail franchise will have a big impact on local services for years to come. My concern is to ensure that we see an improved InterCity service from Lockerbie, connecting the area to Edinburgh and Glasgow and southbound to Carlisle, the north of England and London.
“I believe that at present too much emphasis is placed on city-to-city journey times, leaving intermediate stations like Lockerbie at a disadvantage. We have trains at the moment speeding through our mainline station without stopping which are more than half empty, while local passengers have to wait hours for one to stop. I want to see the minimum number of station calls at Lockerbie in the Invitation to Tender increased so that a balanced timetable of services throughout the day with an early train to Edinburgh/Glasgow getting in before 9am and later evening services from our cities.”
Commenting after the announcement that First / Keolis have had their North West TransPennine franchise, which was due to end on 31 January 2012, extended for a further three years and 2 months until 1 April 2015, Mr Mundell added: “I welcome the news that we now have clarity on who will be running the local trains through Lockerbie over the next few years. The Coalition Government is committed to creating longer rail franchises to give rail operators the confidence to invest in better infrastructure and rolling stock and that is good news.
“I am pressing the Department for Transport to ensure that going forward TransPennine invest in more carriages and end the practice of pre-booking the seats on whole trains. I am frequently contacted by constituents who have trouble getting a seat on services through Lockerbie, either because the trains are simply full when they reach the station or because whole carriages have been pre-booked and there are no unreserved seats. I have campaigned for better service provision at Lockerbie for many years and I have now written to the transport minister Norman Baker to make this case. I hope that action can be taken to improve the service available to local passengers.”