Midge Hall Railway Station

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 7:04 pm ar 17 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Damien Moore Damien Moore Ceidwadwyr, Southport 7:04, 17 Ebrill 2024

I commend my hon. Friend Katherine Fletcher for all her efforts to improve rail connectivity in the areas mentioned in the debate. It is great to have her as my constituency neighbour, working really hard on this issue, which is important to our constituents for all the reasons she highlighted. She has continually campaigned on Midge Hall railway station since she was first elected, and she is not letting her constituents down today.

Connectivity between regions is as important as connectivity within regions. Liverpool is in Merseyside and Preston is in Lancashire. We thank the Department for Transport for the extra funding going to both areas—they are getting about half a billion pounds to spend from the money that would have been spent on HS2. The temptation is always to spend such funding in a single area, but connectivity between the areas is important because of all the economic activity that goes on between them. That should be further enhanced by people being able to move between the areas by an easy train journey, rather than a complicated journey that they would be less likely to make.

Connectivity is also important because we have an education triangle in the area and people living within it find it hard to get around it. There are universities at both ends of it, which people should be able to get to easily. However, people living in the middle of the area find it incredibly difficult to get to a mainline station, so they make car journeys rather than take the train. That is a retrograde step when we think about our carbon footprint.

We are working on the issue. There are a huge number of stakeholders in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend, including businesses and those in the education sector. The Ormskirk, Preston and Southport Travellers’ Association, which is one of the rail passenger forums, has continued to support our efforts in making the connections that are incredibly important to our constituents.

I thank the Department for Transport for its efforts in prioritising regional connectivity, but connections between regions might need a ministerial steer. When people in the affected communities think about their journey to work, college or university, they do not think about who their political representative is; they just know the journey is difficult and want someone to step in to resolve the problem. My hon. Friend and I are doing everything we can to resolve that problem for them. It is a really important time to seize the opportunity to improve the quality of the life for our constituents. I know my constituents in Southport want to see these improvements, as do my hon. Friend’s constituents in South Ribble.

I am sure the Minister is aware that we will continue to campaign for these concerns to be resolved until we see a feasibility study that will, I am sure, unlock these projects and make them a reality, making life easier for our constituents. I hope the Minister has taken that on board. We need a conversation about connectivity between areas because of the passengers affected in those blackspots. Rather than the money being spent on great services within each area, helping connectivity between our constituencies is equally important.