Tatton MP Esther McVey 'forced to sit in luggage rack' for train journey

Esther McVey
Esther McVey slammed train services Credit: PA images

A former Conservative minister has claimed she crammed herself into a luggage rack to sit down on a packed train journey between her constituency and London.

Esther McVey, who represents Tatton in Cheshire told the Commons that her local Avanti train service had gone “shockingly downhill” in the last few years, as MPs debated rail services on the West Coast Mainline.

Ms McVey told the Commons: "The train service between Wilmslow and London on that Manchester to London line used to be hourly, direct and took an hour and 50 minutes.

"Since the pandemic, the rise in industrial action and the start of Avanti operating the line, the service has gone shockingly downhill, ending now in the substandard service that we have today."

She claimed a rail traveller had recently "caused a Twitter storm by posting a picture of her child she had stuffed in a luggage rack".

She said: "I sympathised, for I had done exactly the same thing, only it wasn’t a child I stuffed in the luggage rack. It was me for the full two-hour journey."

Ms McVey said she 'sympathised' with the child in the luggage rack in this tweet Credit: Twitter: Bee Rowlatt

"That was because several trains had had to crush into one," Ms McVey added. "Most people were standing but fortunately I managed to squeeze, and I say fortunately ironically, into the travel rack, and sat there for the full journey."

It comes as rail travellers continue to experience disruption in the north of England and other areas of the UK which are served by the line.

Some Tory MPs called on the Government to withdraw rail operator Avanti’s contract for its poor performance operating services along the West Coast Mainline.

There are calls to strip Avanti of its contract Credit: PA

Ms McVey also called on the Government to scrap HS2 – the major infrastructure project aimed at increasing rail capacity – and to spend the money on restoring existing rail services.

She said: “Here’s an idea to make our railway system reliable, regular and well-maintained – let’s stop wasting those billions of pounds that is going into HS2 and get a proper train system working right across the country, locally and nationally for all of the citizens of this country.”

Transport minister Huw Merriman acknowledged passengers on the West Coast Main Line have had a “torrid time”.

He went on: "We owe it to these passengers to deliver a vastly improved service. The additional drivers, the move away from voluntary working and the new timetable affords the opportunity to turn matters around.

"I am determined to play my part. I expect Avanti, the unions and everyone connected to join with me and ensure that this line delivers once again."

Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans called the debate a "Christmas miracle" Credit: PA

Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans joked: "This must be a Christmas miracle, as we had a debate on the West Coast Main Line.

"And not only was it not cancelled at short notice, but it has not even run late.

"Miracle, indeed."

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