HC Deb 04 December 1989 vol 163 cc5-6
3. Mr. Madel

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he expects to meet the chairman of British Rail before 31 December to discuss reopening of existing lines closed to passenger traffic; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Parkinson

The reopening of freight railway lines to passenger services is a matter for the British Railways Board. British Rail will generally look favourably on any opening where there is a commercial case or where others are willing to give support.

Mr. Madel

As motor traffic congestion is now so serious in the Dunstable-Luton area, with no sign of early relief, will my right hon. Friend join me in urging British Rail to reopen the Dunstable-Luton railway line to passenger traffic at the earliest opportunity?

Mr. Parkinson

As my hon. Friend knows, a number of proposals, ranging from a light railway system to the reopening of the line, are under consideration. I understand that a decision will be announced in January.

Dr. Marek

Will the Minister draw the attention of British Rail's chairman to the need to reopen the railway line in north Wales from Bangor to Caernarfon? Before he does that, however, will he make sure that after 11 years of Conservative rule there is enough rolling stock? In Wrexham we have buses instead of trains and more trains cancelled than ever before.

Mr. Parkinson

I know of no plans to reopen the line that the hon. Gentleman mentioned, but if he cares to write to me I will put the matter to the chairman of British Rail. As for the hon. Gentleman's second point, at the end of the next two years more than 80 per cent. of all the rolling stock on provincial lines will be less than five years old. There is a massive programme under way to modernise all the rolling stock on the provincial lines. I hope that the hon. Gentleman agrees that that is good news, as his hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) does not seem to agree.

Mr. Trotter

Does my right hon. Friend accept that it is essential for the prosperity of the northern half of the country that there should be through freight and passenger trains from the Channel tunnel at the earliest possible time? Does he also accept that British Rail management has assured us that it is essential that the international station at King's Cross should go ahead without any delay and that initially, whatever the route through Kent and the south-east, we should use the existing lines under London?

Mr. Parkinson

My hon. Friend knows that the King's Cross development is a matter for this House. There is a Bill before the House, on which the House will take a decision. There is a later question on the Order Paper about the link to the Channel tunnel. We believe that it is essential for all the regions to have good access to the Channel tunnel. British Rail will be coming forward with proposals before the end of the year.

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