East Coast Mainline Council’s join forces to fight for improvements
Council representatives from right across the East Coast Mainline (ECML) came together last night in York, to discuss to their priorities and a collaborative approach to lobbying Government for greater involvement in its ongoing franchising process.
Cllr James Alexander, leader of City of York Council called for the meeting, which coincided with the Department of Transport’s (DfT) announcement that the ECML franchising would not be put on hold, to ensure that those authorities along the line join forces to present a strong position to Government and call for improvements to its infrastructure, in line with increasing visitor and commercial demand.
ECML councils represented at the meeting came from as far south as Stevenage and as far north as East Lothian, Scotland, alongside Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Newark & Sherwood, North Yorkshire, Doncaster, Durham, Darlington, Northumberland, Peterborough, and Lincolnshire council’s and Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and West Yorkshire ITA.
In strongly supporting York’s call for a collaborative approach the length of the line and across the political spectrum, the group agreed to form a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) understanding to work together to push forward their collective position on the ECML improvements and plan to submit a united document on the franchise to the DfT to seek further fuller involvement in franchise process.
They have also committed to the identification of further opportunities for greater collaboration on economic growth; taking advantage of the line to tackle labour and housing supply, business to business support, inward investment opportunities and the wider tourism offer up and down the line.
Chairing the meeting, Cllr James Alexander commented: “York as a city has very close ties with the railway and the railway industry as the hub and headquarters of the former North Eastern Railway, and now being home to the current operator of the East Coast Mainline, East Coast.
“The link between this city’s economic success and the ECML cannot be underestimated. The investment programme for infrastructure proposed, as set out in Governments ‘Railways Act 2005 Statement’ and ‘Illustrative Options’, must be implemented in full - particularly the £240 million works to improve its capacity and implement a reduction in journey times on this line.
“For the first time, local authorities have come together to lobby for the future of the ECML, to collaborate on what is an immediate priority for all of us. Should the expected franchising go ahead, we will be ready to put forward our case for improvements collectively and ensure that our cities are served by the best possible services to promote our individual economic growth.”
Councillor Roger Blaney, leader of Newark & Sherwood District Council said “This collaboration between local authorities up and down the East Coast mainline is vital if we are going to ensure that we get the very best rail services and economic opportunities for our communities. I am delighted that we all agreed that the two pressing priorities that need to be addressed are removal of the pinch-points at Darlington and at Newark Flat Crossing.”
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