HC Deb 23 January 1980 vol 977 cc410-1
5. Mr. Steen

asked the Minister of Transport if he will arrange an urgent meeting with the chairman of British Railways.

Mr. Fowler

I am meeting him soon.

Mr. Steen

Will my right hon. Friend tell the chairman in no uncertain terms that the ban on bikes on commuter trains is contrary to Government policy both on energy conservation and on making the best possible use of resources? Will he remind the chairman that there are only a few trains that do not have luggage space and goods van space—namely, the new commuter trains? Is he aware that the majority of trains have plenty of space? Will he remind the chairman that although bikes have been banned in goods vans no similar ban applies to motor cycles and prams?

Mr. Fowler

I very much support cycling and the interests of cyclists, as I know my hon. Friend does. This is essentially a matter of management for British Rail. Clearly it has problems with new trains. I am writing to Sir Peter Parker to ascertain whether there is more scope for flexibility in the arrangements that he has announced.

Mr. Alton

Will the right hon. Gentleman raise urgently with the chairman the cancellation last week of 98 of the rush hour trains on the eastern region of a possible 1,975? Will he raise with him the issue of the removal of seats from some train services so that more commuters may be squeezed into the carriages?

Mr. Fowler

I am prepared to raise both those matters.

Mr. Flannery

When the right hon. Gentleman meets the chairman will he raise with him the miserable inadequacies of the railway line from Sheffield to London, which cause trains to be almost permanently late, which cause food to be almost constantly missing and which cause passengers to miss meetings? Is he aware that if the line to Woodhead is closed it will be regarded by the population of South Yorkshire as one more abuse and one more public political statement that the area is being played down and no longer seems important to the Government?

Mr. Fowler

I have already made the position clear on Wood head. I have nothing further to add. I am prepared to talk to the chairman about the quality of the service from Sheffield to London. Given the number of matters that I shall have to put to the chairman so far, it is likely to be an all-day meeting.