HC Deb 30 June 1919 vol 117 cc580-2
2. Mr. HOGGE

asked the President of the Board of Trade the amount of rolling stock transferred to France during the War, the amount since returned to this country, and the present number of trucks and wagons in use on British railways as compared with August, 1914?


I understand that during the War some 460 locomotives and 30,000 wagons in addition to certain passenger stock have been sent to France.

The amount returned to this country, some of which probably has not yet been received by the Railway Companies from whom the rolling stock was taken, is, I am informed, some 400 locomotives and 3,000 wagons. The greater part of the stock returned is in need of extensive overhauling and repairs before it can be brought into use.

The total number of wagons owned by the British Railway Companies in 1914 was about 750,000, and in January, 1919, the number was about 720,000. A large number of these are awaiting repairs. As regards private owners' wagons, the number of these before the War is believed to have been roughly some 700,000. There has no doubt been a reduction in the number available for use on the British railways, but I cannot give the figures.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say how soon the others will be restored to this country?


No, I cannot say without notice.


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that there is great shortage of railway goods wagons in this country; that in some docks it is impossible to get goods cleared because of such shortage; whether the Railway Executive Committee has made any arrangements to meet these complaints; can he state if any new trucks are on order, and if any have been delivered during this year; if so, how many; and can he state if any trucks have yet been returned from France to this country; and, if so, how many?


I am aware of the shortage of railway wagons and of its effects. I am confident that the Railway Companies are doing their best to improve the situation, but I cannot say how many wagons are on order or have been delivered. I understand that some 3,000 wagons have been sent back from France, and that the majority of those received by the Railway Companies need extensive repairs before they can be brought into use.

Lieut.-Colonel THORNE

Can the hon. Gentleman say if the railway wagon builders are working at full speed.


I cannot say.


Are those unloading the wagons working at full speed?


That I cannot say either.

17. Mr. RAPER

asked the President of the Board of Trade, (1) if he will inform the House whether the average laden mobility, exclusive of shunting and inter-terminal work, of the 1,000,000 railway wagons in the United Kingdom is more than or less than one-half of 1 per cent. of their existence; (2) whether he is aware that on an average over 80 per cent. of the energies of a locomotive are absorbed in shunting or unaccounted for; and what steps are being taken to remedy this position?


The Board of Trade are not in possession of any figures from which the laden mobility of a wagon or the average time during which an engine is hauling trains can be deduced with any certainty.


Is it not the fact that these figures have been before the public for some considerable time, and that the Board of Trade has been unable to confute them?


Yes; I believe that they have been published.


But is it correct or not that the Board of Trade cannot confute them?


It is not possible to test them, because we have not the figures to test them by.


Will the hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of making some inquiry where these losses are? It is a business proposition.


Yes, Sir.