§ 11. Mr. Coleman
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has had any recent discussions with British Rail concerning the electrification of the Paddington to south Wales line; and if he will make a statement.
§ 14. Mr. Anderson
asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met the chairman of British Rail to discuss rail operations in south Wales.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Wyn Roberts)
My right hon. Friend last met the chairman on 25 November and discussed a number of issues with him, including electrification of the south Wales line.
§ Mr. Coleman
The Minister, who is a fairly regular traveller on the Inter-City line from Paddington to south Wales, will have seen this magazine, which I have in my hand, issued by British Rail. In that magazine, he will see proposals for the electrification of the line from the north-east by the 1990s. When will we have the same for Wales?
§ Mr. Roberts
British Rail takes the view—I share it, as will the hon. Gentleman and everyone else who travels on the Cardiff to Paddington line—that the present diesel-powered, high-speed trains provide a fast and effective service. Electrification would not improve line speeds. However, British Rail has planned line and stock improvements, which should reduce journey time still further.
§ Mr. Anderson
Hon. Members on both sides of the House wish to ensure that the Channel tunnel does not harm Wales. If we are to gain from investment, surely that investment should be made now. I appeal to the Wwlsh Office to initiate discussions with British Rail to ensure that the potential benefits to Wales from the consruction and use of the Channel tunnel are maximised.
§ Mr. Roberts
I assure the hon. Gentleman that lack of electrification of that line will not affect the use of the Channel tunnel. We expect the Channel tunnel to be of considerable benefit to us in Wales. The Welsh Office has been examining further ways of improving the connections between Wales and the tunnel. British Rail will soon hold a seminar to discuss the matter further.