HC Deb 25 March 1959 vol 602 cc1321-2
24. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation on what basis he estimates the Victoria Line would operate at a loss of £3 million a year; and to what extent that sum includes interest on its capital cost.

Mr. Watkinson

The British Transport Commission informs me that, estimating the cost of the Victoria Line at about £55 million, between £2¼ million and £2½ million, depending on interest rates, of the estimated annual loss will represent interest charges on capital.

Mr. Davies

Would not the Minister agree that this adds justification to the argument that the Victoria Line should be proceeded with by the Government as a Government project, in the same way as roads are built, so that the interest charged to London Transport could be dispensed with? Further, does he not consider, in view of the long time that construction would take, that it is difficult to make these estimates so far ahead, and that by the time the line is constructed the number of people desiring to travel underground because of the increased traffic congestion will be so great that the loss may not be nearly as substantial as is suggested?

Mr. Watkinson

All this question of loss is relevant, but what is more relevant and important at the moment is whether £55 million laid out on a new tube would pay a better traffic dividend than £55 million laid out on surface road works, which is the problem that the London Travel Committee is grappling with at the moment.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Whilst not disagreeing with my right hon. Friend, may I ask whether an estimate has been made of the economic savings which might be achieved by improvement in communications here?

Mr. Watkinson

That is exactly what the London Travel Committee is studying; in what way the expenditure of this large sum of money would pay the best dividend as regards public convenience and everything else.

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