Lucy Rigby has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, regarding the potential for Lincoln to be a specifed location for the purposes of the East Coast Main Line franchise – the invitation to tender for which should be out imminently. Here is the open letter which she sent to Rt Hon McLoughlin MP.
Dear Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP,
I write with regard to the city of Lincoln and to the InterCity East Coast franchising process. As I understand the franchising timetable, your Department is due to issue the InterCity East Coast invitation to tender (ITT) early this year.
In the ITT, it is open to the Department for Transport to set the minimum requirements that bidders must meet to be considered for the InterCity East Coast franchise, including the running of services to specific locations.
The Department for Transport ran a consultation as to the requirements which the Government should set in the InterCity East Coast franchise specification. I, along with many others from Lincoln, responded to this consultation.
The InterCity East Coast Consultation Report states that, of all destinations on the East Coast Main Line, consultation responses requesting “to extend the Newark services to provide direct services to Lincoln was the most popular response.”
The Consultation Report also notes: “There was support from local authorities, passenger interest groups, and from individuals in Lincoln for improvements to rail services between London and Lincoln. In addition to those shown in the figure above, there was support for improvements to services to Lincoln via the cut-out coupons from the Lincolnshire Echo sent by 78 members of the public. The service between Newark Northgate and Lincoln was the most commonly suggested for inclusion in the ICEC franchise to provide direct trains to London.”
Lincoln is the largest city in England with such an infrequent service to London. In light of the very clear and overwhelming support for better services between Lincoln and the capital, it would therefore seem entirely appropriate for the Department for Transport to include more frequent, direct Lincoln to London services as a specified requirement in the ITT. Indeed, not doing so – given the above — would appear somewhat perverse.
I note that, were your Government not privatising the East Coast Main Line, the ability to improve Lincoln’s rail services would be within your direct and immediate control. As you know, the Labour Party favours keeping East Coast in public hands.
Notwithstanding this, I very hope that you share my above conclusions as to Lincoln’s inclusion as a specified location for the purposes of the InterCity East Coast franchise and that the imminent ITT will reflect this.