HC Deb 09 December 1946 vol 431 cc734-5
9. Mr. Sparks

asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is taking to arrest the steady deterioration in railway traffic operations, particularly in regard to general merchandise, coal and mineral traffic.

29. Mr. Scott-Elliot

asked the Minister of Transport what steps are being taken to alleviate the shortage of locomotives and rolling stock which has existed since the cessation of hostilities.

Mr. Barnes

As I have already indicated, movement by rail is being ham pered by shortage of serviceable engines and wagons and by the poor condition of much of the stock. The remedy lies in a substantial measure of replacement and this is being speeded up as much as our resources permit. Meanwhile, all avail able means are being used to relieve the situation. With the co-operation of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply I am endeavouring to arrange for the repair of a number of engines returned from war service on the Continent. Two senior railway officers have been appointed to investigate operation in order to ensure the utmost fluidity throughout the railway system and to see that capacity both of existing stock and of the workshops is used to the best advantage. A number of passenger trains are being withdrawn to release engines for coal and other freight traffic. I have asked the railway and engineering unions for a special effort over the next three months to increase train movements, especially at week-ends, and output of repairs and construction of rolling stock.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

May I ask the Minister whether, in his opinion, this is not another case showing the futility of exporting locomotives while this frightful shortage exists in this country?

Mr. Erroll

Why will the Minister not permit the railway c6mpanies to use the large number of War Department type locomotives at present lying rusting in sidings in Kent in full working order, in stead of putting out this pious explanation?

Mr. Barnes

There are certainly no engines in good condition rusting in any part of the country. If the hon. Gentle man has any information to that effect and cares to furnish me with it, I will certainly have the matter investigated.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

May I have an answer to my supplementary question?

Mr. Speaker

It does not arise out of the original Question.