HC Deb 14 March 1956 vol 550 c383
51. Mr. McAdden

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will exercise his powers under Section 4 (5) of the Transport Act, 1947, to consult the British Transport Commission on the question of the possible disposal of the Southend—Fenchurch Street railway line to some other body.

Mr. Watkinson

If my hon. Friend will look at the proviso to Section 4 (5) of the Act he will see that I have no power to do what he suggests.

Mr. McAdden

Does not my right hon. Friend think it a defect in the Transport Act that I am not allowed to ask whether he will improve the line but only whether he will close it or sell it? Is he aware that dissatisfaction is so widespread that parsons are now preaching sermons about it; and will he now appoint someone from the Transport Users' Consultative Committee to travel daily on the line?

Mr. Watkinson

I understand my hon. Friend to be now asking me whether I am satisfied with the present service on the line. I would say "No," because, as he knows, the line is to be electrified, which we are trying to do as quickly as we can, but I will say quite frankly that until it is electrified it cannot give the standard of service I would wish.

Mr. Ernest Davies

May I ask if any buyers have come forward—have any offers been made for the railway?

Mr. Watkinson

Not to my knowledge.

Mr. Lagden

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he would have the greatest difficulty in selling the locomotives owing to the fact that they so seldom proceed along the line under their own power?

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