Address to the Consortium of East Coast Main Line Authorities

Thank you David for your speech and as the Member of Parliament who was elected and then re-elected on a platform of securing better rail connections for my City of Lincoln, I am forever grateful for your direct services to Lincoln from London, the promise of many more in the next few years, and the additional services for key events in Lincoln and across our County of Lincolnshire - like this week’s Christmas Market in Lincoln over four days and the weekend.

I would also like to thank the Consortium’s Chairman and Leader of the City Council of York, Cllr David Carr for his leadership and his earlier words, and, of course it is quite apt that the National Railway Museum is in York and I highly recommend a visit to those who have not yet been.

I would also like to thank Arlen (Pettitt) from the North East Chamber of Commerce for his speech on the vital role that the East Coast Main Line artery plays in supporting the business community, millions of jobs and our Country’s economic future.

As us railway enthusiasts know, the first public steam railway in the world was built between Stockton and Darlington, still key parts of the East Coast Mainline today. So all of us here today can clearly claim to be the successors of the first railway pioneers and that we represent the global home of the modern railway.

Fast forward to 2016 and a modern East Coast Rail artery is as vitally important now as it was in 1825. In a post Brexit Britain we can only make the most of the opportunities leaving the European Union will bring and protecting what we already have if we see serious investment in the transport network and especially the railways – not only in building capacity but also in making them cheaper, more resilient and reliable. We cannot afford to ignore the circa £9 billion, that investment of around £3billion in the rail infrastructure, will bring.

The focus, and this is in my personal opinion as a Lincolnshire and East Midlands Member of Parliament, tilted a little too far towards the North West… as if only better London links between Birmingham, Liverpool Chester and Manchester matter. Whilst we have seen some rebalancing with the investment in the Trans Penine region including a renewed impetus on HS3 - to form the perfect rail triangle, we also do need extra investment in the East Coast Mainline. This will ensure that the cities and towns that we all represent are treated as equals and are fully plugged into a modernised rail network, that rightly links us all quickly and regularly to our capital City.

There is something very British about the railway system, it forms part of the history and soul of our nation, because of the enabling ability railways give us to:

  • allow businesses to trade
  • to bring families together
  • to leave home for the first time and move around the Country to study, and
  • to literally being able to buy a ticket, hop on a train and visit new places the length and breadth of our great country on a whim if we so wish.

Being able to travel from London to Inverness or Aberdeen, looking out of the window to see what a great and varied Country we live in is a must for anyone and should in fact be on the national curriculum. School trips to museums are important of course, but train journeys for young people around the Country will open their eyes – to different places, people and our industrial and mechanical heritage.

To me, railways capture of the buccaneering spirit of the British people and all of us here today representing different areas, different businesses, different parts of the railways sector and from different Parties, all want to see more investment in the East Coast Mainline - it is an unarguable case. All we ask is to be included and all of us Members of Parliament here today, and those who could not be here, will not cease in making that case.

Thankyou all for coming this afternoon and I hope you enjoy the rest of this event and the rest of your day.

Karl McCartney JP MP