HC Deb 23 July 1975 vol 896 cc528-9
2. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much investment is planned within the next five years to extend the railway network in Scotland.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Neil Carmichael)

No major extensions are planned either in Scotland or elsewhere in Britain.

Mr. Canavan

Does my hon. Friend realise that the last parliamentary statement on British Railways' investment plans was on 28th November 1973, under the last Tory Government? Does he not think that Parliament and the public should be kept informed more regularly about British Railways' investment plans, or is Richard Marsh a law unto himself? In particular, will my hon. Friend put pressure on British Railways to provide much needed additional track in Scotland—especially in the oil development areas—and also to construct air-rail terminals at Turnhouse, Prestwick, Abbotsinch and Dyce?

Mr. Carmichael

I think my hon. Friend will recall that there have been a number of debates on railway matters. I answered a long Adjournment debate myself in April, about the Perth-Inverness line. British Railways have just put to my right hon. Friend proposals for increasing the capacity of that line, and these are being urgently considered.

Mr. Henderson

Does the hon. Gentleman not recall that in the Adjournment debate the question of rail routes to the Notch-East, particularly to Peterhead, was raised, and I think he agreed to draw the attention of British Railways to this matter? Has he made any progress in pressing on them the commercial prospects available to them in that area as a result of oil development?

Mr. Carmichael

The commercial prospects of running a rail line are a question for British Railways, which put to my right hon. Friend any plans they may have. We consider them as sympathetically and urgently as we can.

Mr. Buchanan

Is my hon. Friend aware that the state of the railways in Scotland borders on the deplorable? Due to the lack of investment, rolling stock is in a very bad state and many of the locomotive and diesel multiple units now in use have come from other areas. Due to lack of foresight and planning, many areas of economic development in Scotland are being denied the rail facilities to which they are entitled. Will my hon. Friend seek to remedy this situation as quickly as possible?

Mr. Carmichael

I cannot fully agree with my hon. Friend on the question of railway investment being neglected in Scotland. We have had quite a good deal of investment recently, including electrification of the line between Weaver Junction and Glasgow, approval of the introduction of high-speed diesels between London and Edinburgh, the very expensive Clyde rail project and the £18 million that is being spent on re-signalling in the Edinburgh area.

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