HC Deb 30 November 1987 vol 123 cc594-5
6. Dr. Marek

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will direct the British Railways Board to respond to the proposal of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and make an estimate of the level of investment required to meet the quality of service recommemdations contained in the recent report on Network SouthEast.

The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. David Mitchell)

British Rail is investigating the level of investment needed to meet the MMCs recommendations.

Dr. Marek

Has the Minister read the MMCs recent report? If so, is he aware of the large gaps in quality of service targets and in information about details of standards achieved? Will he ask British Rail management to examine the problems of these detailed targets—and do so himself—and obtain some better management efficiency so that the public know exactly what the standards are and how British Rail proposes to meet them?

Mr. Mitchell

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for bringing out that point, because I have been looking at the standards of quality achieved on Network SouthEast. Although I personally am never satisfied, it is the case that, in 1979, 84 per cent. of trains arrived within five minutes of their scheduled time. By March 1986 the figure had gone up to 87 per cent., and in October this year it had reached 93 per cent. Sometimes, knocking British Rail should give way to giving credit to the staff for a magnificent job, which is done often in very adverse conditions.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Could investment projects in the south-east be affected by the massive guarantees of income to Eurotunnel by British Rail, despite the previous written instructions not to give any such guarantee? Who will pay if the project is the dismal flop that the investing public obviously think it will be? Will it be other rail travellers, or the taxpayers? Does my hon. Friend not have an obligation to the House to make a statement on the consequences of the dismal failure of the Eurotunnel share issue?

Mr. Mitchell

My hon. Friend well knows that the Government are not involved in the financing of Eurotunnel. The arrangements that British Rail has made are purely commercial, to enable it to have secure certainty of use of the tunnel. It is making payments for that, and for no other purpose.

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