HC Deb 04 December 1963 vol 685 cc1141-2
10. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Transport what estimate his divisional road engineers have made for necessary road improvements as a result of the closure proposal for the former Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway.

Mr. Marples

I have not yet received the reports of the South Eastern and South Western Transport Users' Consultative Committees on hardship. Until I have studied them and any proposals they may make for alternative services I shall not be able to make a final assessment of the road implications. It would, in any case, be improper for me to comment on any aspect of the closure proposal before I reach a decision.

Mr. Digby

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is increasing scepticism that these alternative road facilities will be provided? Obviously it will take some time in any case. Surely an assessment at this stage could be made?

Mr. Marples

Until I have the report of the statutory bodies set up to consider them, I cannot comment on alternative services.

Mr. Mellish

Will the right hon. Gentleman refuse to close stretches of railway until the Buchanan, Rochdale and Beeching Reports are considered as a whole? Is it not ludicrous to go on closing stretches of railway when, under a national plan later, he will find that it was wrong to have done so?

Mr. Marples

I cannot give that assurance. I will look at these alternative services and what the transport users'consultative committees say in their reports. What really interests people in my hon. Friend's constituency is the alternative arrangements that can be made between the two stations in mind. They do not want to know about a road survey between Glasgow and Edinburgh but what alternative services they are to get locally.

Sir Richard Glyn

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind when the time comes that the road system has been much neglected in this area and that a very great number of agricultural wide loads, in the technical sense—combine harvesters and balers—are at present delivered by railway and would have to be delivered by the existing narrow and inconvenient roads in the event of the closure of this line? This would be an acute problem from the moment the line closed, if it does.

Mr. Marples

I can assure my hon. Friend that all these circumstances will be taken into account before a decision is reached.

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