HC Deb 23 December 1964 vol 704 cc1224-5
27. Mr. Powell

asked the Minister of Transport what sums he estimates will be advanced by him to the Railways Board in this and in the coming financial year in respect of the project for liner trains.

28. Mr. Longbottom

asked the Minister of Transport when he expects the Beeching Report proposals for liner freight trains to be implemented; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Tom Fraser

The Railways Board hopes to introduce the first experimental liner trains next summer, if early agreement is reached with the unions on the principle of "open" depots. My predecessor approved investment of £6 million for liner trains; of this about £700,000 will be spent in 1964. Investment for 1965 will depend on the date of introduction of the services.

Mr. Powell

Is there anything which the right hon. Gentleman can do, or is doing, to help the Railways Board in obtaining the conditions necessary to initiate this very important scheme?

Mr. Fraser

I have discussed this very important scheme with the Chairman of the Railways Board. He is continuing his discussions with the unions. I believe that it is his wish that I should not intervene in those discussions at the present time. I hope that they will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion so that the liner trains can start next summer as planned.

Mr. Longbottom

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many people recognise the difficulties involved in this case between the Railways Board and the unions and will be grateful to know that there is a possibility of these liner trains starting next summer? While I appreciate the difficulty in which the right hon. Gentleman is placed, may I ask him to do all in his power to promote an agreement between the unions and the Board on this subject?

Mr. Fraser

If it seems necessary for me to "barge in" I will do so, but at the moment I would prefer to allow the Railways Board and the unions to carry on their discussions.

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