HC Deb 20 June 1979 vol 968 cc1296-8
4. Mr. Walter Johnson

asked the Minister of Transport when he expects next to meet the chairman of British Railways.

18. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Minister of Transport when he expects next to meet the chairman of the British Railways board.

Mr. Fowler

Next week.

Mr. Johnson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is important at this stage for him to give an assurance to the chairman that there will be no hiving off of profitable sections of British Rail, such as hotels and the shipping division? This is vital for the good working of the industry. I should like his assurance on this matter today.

Mr. Fowler

We have been working on that matter. I have seen reports in the press on this subject, but at this stage they are entire speculation.

Mr. Sims

Is my right hon. Friend aware that since new schedules were introduced on the south-eastern section of Southern Region a month ago there have been delays and cancellations daily? When he meets the chairman of British Rail, will he explain to him that the commuter market is a captive one and that, although my constituents have to accept increased fares from time to time, they would do so with better grace if they could rely on the schedules issued by British Rail?

Mr. Fowler

I shall make my hon. Friend's remarks known to the chairman. However, I am sure that my hon. Friend welcomed the chairman's statement after the Budget that he hoped to freeze fares for the rest of the year. I believe that that is to the benefit of commuters; it is very much my hope.

Mr. Stallard

Does the Minister recall that some weeks ago I wrote to him about the transportation of radioactive nuclear waste on British Rail? When he meets the chairman next week, will he discuss with him the deep concern felt by my constituents and many others outside the London area about the transportation of nuclear waste, and will he then reply to my letter?

Mr. Fowler

I shall closely examine that point. We shall shortly be replying to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Penhaligon

Will the Minister tell the chairman of British Rail next week that he should allow no railway closures?

Mr. Fowler

The decision is obviously one for the chairman. But, as I have made clear on earlier occasions, the present Government do not intend to go in for another round of Beeching cuts.

Mr. Colin Shepherd

Will my right hon. Friend draw the chairman's attention to the practice of leaving diesel multiple units running for long periods in stations when trains are not being used, bearing in mind the threat to rural services because of the shortage of diesel fuel? Does not such a practice waste a valuable commodity?

Mr. Fowler

I shall draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the chairman's attention.

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