HC Deb 21 July 1983 vol 46 c553
5. Mr. Beggs

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the future of the Larne to Belfast rail link.

The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Chris Patten)

The Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company are reviewing the financial requirements of the Province's railways over the next decade on the basis of a corporate plan prepared by Northern Ireland Railways. This review is designed to ensure that public transport resources are used as effectively as possible, and includes the operational activity of the Lame to Belfast rail link.

Mr. Beggs

Does the Minister accept that the absence of a cross-city link means that rail services in Northern Ireland are inadequate?

Mr. Patten

The construction of the link must be determined in the light of our judgment of the effects of the recently-opened M1-M2 link on the city's traffic patterns. As I told the hon. Gentleman last week, I hope to travel on the Belfast to Lame line during the next few days.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

Will the Minister ensure that the review to which he referred includes consideration of the practicability and desirability of renewing the rail connection to Newry and Warrenpoint?

Mr. Patten

I shall be happy to review everything during the next financial year, and I shall certainly review what the right hon. Gentleman suggests.

Mr. McQuarrie

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that many Scots travel from Stranraer to Larne to join that line, and that any reduction in the service to Belfast would be most disappointing to them?

Mr. Patten

I note what my hon. Friend says and I shall bear it in mind when I consider the matter.