HC Deb 16 March 1987 vol 112 cc678-9
5. Mr. Silvester

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the latest position regarding the development of the rail link to Manchester airport.

Mr. David Mitchell

I understand that an outline application for grant for the rail link to Manchester airport will be submitted very shortly. I welcome this progress and will ensure that the application receives immediate attention.

Mr. Silvester

Is it not a little disappointing that this is taking so long? Where does responsibility lie for the next stage? Can my hon. Friend give us any idea of the date on which he expects the application to be submitted?

Mr. Mitchell

As far back as 28 October last year I promised to consider a section 56 grant application urgently. Apparently it is not regarded quite so urgently by the passenger transport authority, or presumably I should have received it before now. I understand that there is private sector interest in providing a rail link, either partly or wholly at its own expense, relating to the development that the private sector is prepared to undertake at the airport. That may be very good news for people in the area and for the airport.

Mr. Stephen Ross

I congratulate Manchester on getting permission for its airport connection and getting it under way, but will the Minister tell us what progress has been made in the review of a rail link to Heathrow, which I suggest is absolutely urgent?

Mr. Mitchell

The review of the corridor and of the transport links within it is proceeding.

Mr. Adley

Will my hon. Friend make a clear statement on behalf of the Government that his Department accepts that, if we are fully to maximise the advantages of a new airport, it must have a rail link? Given the increase in road traffic that airports bring, a rail link is an environmental necessity for a modern airport.

Mr. Mitchell

My hon. Friend makes an interesting point, but we have to consider horses for courses. In some cases, people travel to an airport from all directions and do not all channel down a single rail link. My hon. Friend must take that fact into account in his enthusiasm for railways to all parts of the country.

Mr. Carter-Jones

When the Minister receives the application, will he give it favourable and speedy consideration and appreciate the significance of the rail link, not only for the airport, but for the infrastructure of Manchester and the north-west?

Mr. Mitchell

I undertake to deal with it speedily, but until I receive it I cannot say how I shall regard it.

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