On Thursday 18 January 2018, I had a very simple question for the new rail minister: when will works to complete the electrification of the Great Western Railway line be un-paused?
The line between London and Cardiff was supposed to have been fully electrified by this year. Instead, the government announced in November 2016 that works in and around Bristol would be indefinitely deferred, and after the General Election the government cancelled works to electrify the line between Cardiff and Swansea.
Putting new trains on the line is a positive step. But without electrification, commutes in and out of Bristol will continue to take place on slower, and more polluting trains.
I, too, welcome the Minister to his post. When will the electrification programme for the railways in the south-west—including the chunk to Bristol—be “un-paused”?
Joseph Johnson (Minister of State, Department for Transport)
We are thinking about how we can deliver the best outcomes for passengers, because that is what is important to us. We are delivering the same benefits more efficiently, and at a lower cost to taxpayers. We are delivering faster journey times and better trains, and I think that Members on both sides of the House will welcome the new fleet of 29 Hitachi trains which will serve that part of the country.
You can watch the exchange here: