HC Deb 14 July 1969 vol 787 cc25-6
5. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Minister of Transport what study he has made of the development of computer-controlled 400 miles per hour underground vacuum trains with special reference to their safety, cleanliness and economy and their ability to link the centre of London to airports and far-distant commuter areas; and if he will take steps to set up an experimental gravity-vacuum tube section.

Mr. Carmichael

We know of this proposal but have not mounted any detailed studies or experiments at this stage.

Mr. Roberts

Would my hon. Friend accept that it is essential that we spend far more money on high speed ground transport and perhaps less on high speed air transport if the majority of the community is to benefit? Would he agree that it is only with high speed ground transport of this type that people can be taken to pleasant places like Wales or the East Anglian coast, or commute to Birmingham and even London?

Mr. Carmichael

I do not know why Scotland was missed out of that list. This is an interesting proposal, but there are many technical problems involved. We believe that the United Kingdom effort on surface transport should be devoted to the advance passenger train. There are feasibility studies going on at John Hopkins University on this new idea, but I understand that one of the technical problems is that the track alignment and smoothness would need to be 25 times greater than the Tokaido high speed line in Japan.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that any method of speeding up land transport would be greatly appreciated by the travelling public? Is he aware that it is very frustrating, after a 50 minute flight, to wait 40 minutes for baggage and another 30 minutes before reaching London?

Mr. Carmichael

This is why we are concentrating on the advance passenger train. The second part of the question is rather more specialised. There are other Questions down on the Order Paper dealing with travel from London Airport.