LETTER: HS2 Trains - Cash needed elsewhere

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We all know that solutions that appear quick and easy and with immediate effect almost always hide a deeper reality of paying a higher price further down the line.

During the New Labour years, we witnessed massive increases in spending in almost every government department, but the results in terms of improvement very rarely matched the cost.

In reality, it’s not the level of spending but rather the carefulness of attention that improves services and makes our country a better place to live in.

This Government have been careful and cautious in handling the economy, and slow but very steady progress has been made in putting Britain’s financial situation back on the right track.

It has meant a few very difficult years, but rather than trying flashy tricks it is our perseverance in fiscal rectitude that is paying off.

There are still problems on the horizon, and problems which may very well threaten our task of balancing the books.

Chief among these is High Speed Two. I think it would be superb for Britain to have a well-funded network of high speed rail lines, but I’m sure you’ll agree it would be foolish to write a blank cheque. High speed yes, but not at any price.

It would be far wiser to take the proposed investment – which is significant – and devote it to improving conventional rail services that we are more frequently dependent upon on a daily basis, or increasing all-too-rare services, like from Gainsborough to Cleethorpes.

The Market Rasen Rail Users Group is nearing its first anniversary and has worked hard to document the appalling situation for passengers in this part of Lincolnshire.

Many people trying to catch trains have been left waiting on the platforms because East Midlands Trains do not maintain a sufficient supply of railway carriages to meet the demand.

It’s not just a matter of shoppers not being able to do their Saturday shopping. Not getting a space on that train could mean the difference between arriving at a job interview on time, or catching the connection to London at Newark.

I’ve even heard of one woman on crutches who could not make an important doctor’s appointment because of the situation on East Midlands Trains.

To put it simply, this situation is intolerable and cannot be allowed to continue.

East Midlands Trains claim that their hands are tied by bureaucracy and regulations. I have written to the Department for Transport over this inexcusable state of affairs and I eagerly awaiting their response.

This week we are also bidding farewell to Coun Chris Underwood-Frost. A former Grenadier Guard, Chris was a devoted public servant and a model councillor, first on West Lindsey District Council and later on the County Council.

His death is a loss to the county but I hope his service will inspire us to keep working to improve Lincolnshire and indeed the country. Chris’s record shows that local people working together can achieve a great deal. May he rest in peace.

Sir Edward Leigh

MP For Gainsborough