HC Deb 22 April 1991 vol 189 cc760-1
6. Mr. Franks

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to improve the transport infrastructure in south Cumbria.

Mr. McLoughlin

The current road programme for south Cumbria includes major improvements costing some £50 million. These proposals represent a very substantial investment and should greatly improve the trunk road network in south Cumbria.

I understand that British Rail is currently looking closely at options for improving the rail service between Preston and Barrow.

Mr. Franks

My hon. Friend will be aware that the south-west corner of Cumbria, particularly the town of Barrow, is probably one of the least accessible parts of the country. In view of the area's need to broaden its economic base following cuts in defence expenditure, will my hon. Friend give urgent priority to improving the local infrastructure, and particularly to an early commencement of a bypass at Dalton-in-Furness on the A590?

Mr. McLoughlin

I understand my hon. Friend's point and what he said about the A590. Those matters are currently being considered by my hon. Friend the Minister for Roads and Traffic and I hope that we shall soon be able to help my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks).

Mrs. Dunwoody

Is the Minister aware that west Cumbria would be greatly assisted by rapid improvements to the west coast line, which will require a certain amount of investment over the next five years? Will he undertake to discuss with the chairman of British Rail how the state can help to improve those services?

Mr. McLoughlin

We are always willing to consider, with the chairman of British Rail, any proposals or investment programmes that British Rail wishes to pursue.

Mr. Jopling

Is my hon. Friend aware that, if the most serious and urgent problems of Barrow and the surrounding area are to be dealt with, as they must be, Ministers must apply their minds and their time to making special efforts to ensure that road communications are improved, as my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks) said, including the Lindale to Newby bridge stretch of road and the railway line to Barrow, where connections with the main line are haphazard, to say the least?

Mr. McLoughlin

I understand my right hon. Friend's concern. As I said in my original answer, British Rail is currently considering the matter.

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