HC Deb 22 February 1988 vol 128 c12
10. Mr. Roy Hughes

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with the chairman of British Rail concerning the electrification of the rail network, and other matters; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. David Mitchell

My right hon. Friend last met the chairman of British Rail on 11 February. A variety of railway matters were discussed.

Mr. Hughes

When the Secretary of State next meets the chairman, will the Minister ensure that he reminds him of the need for the early electrification of the London to south Wales main line? Will he also tell the chairman what provision the Government are making for our local authorities to ensure that they are able to provide for local halts, such as that in Magor in Gwent, which are so urgently needed?

Mr. Mitchell

The answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question is no. It is for British Rail to come forward with proposals for electrification where it considers that to be appropriate. I have had no application from British Rail in respect of that line.

I shall write to the hon. Gentleman on the matter of smaller stations.

Mr. Sackville

Will my hon. Friend say what progress has been made on assessing the possibilities for an improved rail service linking the Channel tunnel with Manchester and the north of England?

Mr. Mitchell

British Rail is required by section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987 to prepare a plan by the end of 1989 setting out its service proposals. It intends to consult widely in preparation for the plan, but it is too early yet to say exactly what it will entail.

Mr. Snape

Will the Minister join me in congratulating the north-west group of Labour Members on their success in persuading British Rail not to take the nonsensical decision to abolish sleeper services to Manchester and Liverpool and to run empty sleeper trains in one direction? Does he not think that that shows the effectiveness of my hon. Friends from the north-west?

Mr. Mitchell

It was not only Opposition Members who were responsible for making representations on that matter. I am delighted to hear that the hon. Gentleman is now converted to approving of the chairman of British Rail and his activities.