Supplementary note from the Secretary
of State for Transport
At his appearance before the Transport Select
Committee on Wednesday 10 April Stephen Byers agreed to provide
a written note on the stages and timing of the East Coast mainline
upgrade and whether this included Wakefield Station. He also undertook
to let you know who will get the proceeds from the sale of property
via the deal for the Underground.
As you know, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA)
announced a two-year extension to the GNER's current franchise,
from 2003 to 2005, on 16 January. This ensures that benefits to
passengers, including enhanced Leeds-London services, are delivered
in the next few years, whilst the upgrade project is developed
The SRA is continuing to drive forward the development
of the proposed upgrade of the East Coast Main Line, working closely
with Railtrack. It expects that the proposed outputs of the upgrade
should be able to be reflected in a new long-term franchise for
the route, which may start from 2005.
The SRA estimates that the upgrade will be largely
completed by 2008. Overall, the outputs focus on capacity rather
than substantial journey-time improvements. The main elements
will be enhancements to passenger services from London to Leeds,
Newcastle and Edinburgh; station improvements; elimination of
bottlenecks to improve and link diversionary routes for freight
services, and additional capacity between London and Peterborough.
The SRA propose a phased programme. Railtrack's
earlier proposal had included works at Leeds, extended freight
loops and some renewal work. This phase is now virtually complete
and this summer GNER has introduced increased services between
London and Leeds. This was a commitment made by GNER as part of
its franchise extension and would be continued by any new franchise.
By 2005, when the new franchise is due to come into effect, it
is anticipated that services to Leeds will be up to every half
hour for much of the day, again subject to consultation including
negotiation with freight operators.
Subsequent work on the ECML upgrade will include
development of Kings Cross station and enhancements to diversionary
routes bringing increased capacity for passenger and freight services.
Development work on this phase of the proposal is progressing
but the SRA is looking to spread the construction works. While
the ultimate completion date cannot be stated with certainty at
this stage, it is anticipated it will be largely completed by
2008-10. Further works may be proposed in the long term but these
are not currently expected to be introduced before 2011.
I understand that the SRA's proposals for the
East Coast Main Line do not include specific plans to redevelop
Wakefield station. Having said that, consideration of bids for
the renewal of the GNER franchise from 2005 will undoubtedly include
the redevelopment of stations and it is recognised that Wakefield
is a key location where bidders could make a difference. I also
have been informed that there is some commercial interest in redevelopment
at Wakefield. In the meantime, subject to timetabling, the expectation
is that most of the additional services from this summer will
call at Wakefield. When the main elements of the upgrade are completed,
additional Leeds services would, again, be expected to include
some stopping services to Wakefield.
The London Underground Property Partnership
would provide for the management and development of London Underground's
non-operational property. The competition to find a private partner
is currently on hold.
Under the proposed arrangements, London Underground
would receive receipts. I do not expect that the arrangements
will be finalised until after the ownership of London Underground
has been transferred to Transport for London.
13 June 2002