HC Deb 28 April 1926 vol 194 cc2023-4

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether there is a deficit for 1925–26 on the working of the Cranwell Railway; and, if so, whether, having regard to the loss in 1924–25, considerably exceeding that in 1923–24, and to the fact that motor omnibuses run between the points served by the railway, he will consider whether economy could be effected by closing the line and selling the undertaking?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative, but the deficit or, as I should prefer to call it, the net cost, is likely to be less than in the previous financial year, and proposals which may still further reduce it in future are now under consideration. As I stated last year, however, receipts cannot he expected to balance expenditure on a line of this nature. As regards the second part, the size and situation of the station make the railway indispensable. Even if it could be closed down, no economy would result, in view of the high cost of road transport of heavy stores. A spur line of this sort would have no sale value except as scrap, and any private enterprise would have to be heavily subsidised to run it.


Might I ask my right hon. Friend what was the loss on this railway?


I have not the exact figure in my mind. It was less last year than the year before, and we hope to diminish it still further this year.


Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that in future years there will be a deficit, and, if so, does he not think that if the deficit is large enough it would be an economy to do away with the railway?


I have looked into the question with that in my mind, but I have satisfied myself that, as things are at pre- sent, it is cheaper to have the railway than heavy road transport. If economy could be shown to exist, I should obviously prefer the second alternative, but at present it does not exist.