HC Deb 13 March 1989 vol 149 c12
11. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received on the central London rail study.

Mr. Channon

Relatively few as yet. It is still too early to expect many considered responses.

Mr. Bowis

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in my constituency we have the busiest rail junction in the world, Clapham junction, but that it is not linked to the Underground system? Is he aware that the only part of the Underground system that runs through my constituency is the most inadequate bit of the whole system—the southern end of the Northern line—which, according to all the reports, cannot be improved? Will my right hon. Friend therefore respond to the genuine concerns and hopes of my constituents that the central London rail study will bring the Underground system south of the river to Clapham junction and beyond and thus provide a new link for local people and relieve the congestion on the Northern line?

Mr. Channon

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his general support of the central London rail study which, on the whole, has received a good reception. In spite of the present investment in London's rail services, more still needs to be done. We need to develop our plans to improve rail services and to cater for the demand that is forecast for the end of the century. The report has been published and I hope that hon. Members will let me have their views on it. We shall decide in the summer what is to be done.

Mr. Spearing

With regard to Clapham junction, the west London road assessment studies and the proposed west cross route, would it not be a good idea to electrify the line from Clapham junction to Willesden junction, which serves a number of important locations and was electrified before the war? Why does not the Secretary of State consider this in relation to the central London rail study? When is the closing date for observations? When the railways are built, what proportion of the cost will have to be met by passengers in increased fares—I believe that they should not bear any of the cost—and how much by the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Mr. Channon

The exact way of costing these improvements—if we decide to go ahead with them—has yet to be decided. The cost will be met from a mixture of fares and—I hope—some contribution from the developers. Because of road congestion and for other reasons, some Government grant may be provided, but that is yet to be determined.

As regards the electrification of one particular line, the relevant issues were considered in the central London rail study. It is hoped that, all the options having been considered, the package produced will be the one most likely to make the maximum contribution to London. The House will want to consider whether that is so. I very much welcome views from Londoners and others as to which option we should take.