HC Deb 11 November 1968 vol 773 cc17-8
11. Dr. John Dunwoody

asked the Minister of Transport what further proposals he has received from British Railways regarding line closures; and if he will make a statement.

21. Mr. Biffen

asked the Minister of Transport what estimate he has made of the number of railway closures scheduled during 1969–70; what consultations he has had with British Railways on such closures; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Marsh

I am at present considering applications for social grant under Section 39 of the Transport Act, 1968, and shall be making an announcement shortly.

Dr. Dunwoody

I welcome my right hon. Friend's announcement of his intention to give us further details shortly, but will he look particularly at the problem of those lines under suspended sentence in our development areas and take into consideration the economic and social factors involved?

Mr. Marsh

Certainly. This is a factor which we have very much in mind when determining whether to close a line.

Mr. Biffen

Does the Minister foresee that when he makes his statement he will tell us the estimated number of passenger services likely to be closed during the period referred to in my Question? Can he confirm that at the moment 350 passenger services are loss-making?

Mr. Marsh

When I make the statement, it will be my intention to give the fullest possible information. It would be unwise, without the facts, to speculate about what the statement will say.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

How many miles of line will have to be closed to get the figure down to 11,000 which has been advocated, and when will this be achieved?

Mr. Marsh

The figure of 11,000 is not necessarily a firm figure, as I have explained. When the statement is made, but not before, it will be possible for the hon. Gentleman to draw conclusions from it.