HC Deb 19 March 1984 vol 56 cc693-4
9. Mr. Pike

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, when he next meets the chairman of British Rail, he will discuss rail transport in north-east Lancashire.

Mr. David Mitchell

I have no such specific item in mind, but I will gladly consider any issue that the hon. Gentleman has in mind.

Mr. Pike

Is the Minister aware that north-east Lancashire has a large population and, at present, a minimal service, and that, for instance, it takes a long time to get from Burnley to Preston? Will he ask the chairman of British Rail to ensure that there are no further cuts in the service? Will he look at the possible provision of a service from Manchester through to the Burnley-Pendle end of the north-east Lancashire line?

Mr. Mitchell

Those are commercial decisions for British Rail, but I shall certainly draw the board's attention to the hon. Gentleman's comments.

Mr. Gregory

When my hon. Friend next meets the chairman of British Rail, will he point out to him the complete dissatisfaction of the many consumers who on Friday were subjected to a wildcat unofficial strike by various ASLEF drivers? Does my hon. Friend agree that nothing does more to detract from investment in British Rail than treatment of that nature? I, with many others, was subjected for several hours to harassment on Friday afternoon and evening at Kings Cross. Will my hon. Friend point out that such unofficial action cannot be tolerated?

Mr. Mitchell

Kings Cross is not in north-east Lancashire. My hon. Friend will have to table a separate question.

Mr. Straw

To return to the subject of the question, does the Minister accept that the people of north-east Lancashire are having to accept a low standard of service and ride in trains that are 25 or more years old, principally because of the lack of Government investment and not as a result of decisions taken by the British Railways Board? Will the Minister say what chance there is of improving the service and improving investment in the rolling stock in the area?

Mr. Mitchell

I have approved recently—indeed, since the new year—investment in 150 lightweight and 100 medium weight diesel multiple units at a cost of over £48 million. Both types of diesel multiple units are in use on provincial services, and it is up to the board to allocate them to the various services.