'The railway is failing my constituency' - Yvette Cooper MP calls for increased investment in Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford
Yvette Cooper MP has called for increased funding for public transport in her constituency, warning that the current system "has been failing my constituency for far too long."
The Normanton Pontefract and Castleford MP was speaking in the House of Commons as part of a debate about the future of Britain's Railways.
It came after the government confirmed the creation of a new state-owned body, Great British Railways, which will set timetables and prices, sell tickets and manage rail infrastructure, and is expected to launch in 2023.
Speaking to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in the House of Commons last week, Ms Cooper sought reassurance that the shakeup would benefit her constituency, where poor train services are a repeated gripe.
She said: "The current system has been failing my constituency for far too long, so I urge the Secretary of State to make sure that this plan improves things and is a step forward.
"The Five Towns are less than 20 miles from the centre of Leeds. If we were that close to the centre of London, we would have many trains an hour into the city, yet Normanton has only one train an hour into Leeds; Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley are all underserved; and we need more trains to Sheffield, York and Hull.
"I have met Transport Ministers repeatedly on this, so will the Transport Secretary now guarantee that this new plan will mean more local trains for the Five Towns?"
In response, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted that the poor rail connectivity would be far less likely to happen in the south of England.
He said: "As the northern powerhouse Minister in Cabinet, I spend a huge amount of my time looking at the way that the railway service that I now get to run, Northern, operates through the operator of last resort.
"The service at the moment is just not good enough. [Ms Cooper] is right to say that if it was in the south the connectivity would be vastly better. That is why this Government are obsessed—obsessed, I say—with levelling up, and why I hope that her discussions with the Minister of State are very fruitful.
"Great British Railways will, I think, be of great assistance to her constituents."