HC Deb 21 March 1994 vol 240 c12
14. Mr. Mark Robinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what effect he expects the introduction of competition to have on improvements in rail services.

Mr. Freeman

We expect the introduction of competition to result in increased frequencies of service in response to more extensive marketing, and lower fares for certain services.

Mr. Robinson

Once again, my right hon. Friend is talking about getting more passengers back on to the track. Will he join me in condemning the scare stories that are being put about, especially by the Liberal Democrats in towns such as Frome and Bruton, that stations are to close on 1 April, when we have improved the procedures and made it more difficult to close stations?

Mr. Freeman

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The Liberal Democrats in the south-west of England are deliberately engendering fears in the minds of passengers by forecasting station closures that will not happen.

Mr. Olner

In these days of increased competition, is the Minister aware of the disastrous route on the west coast main line? Today, literally thousands of passengers from early in the morning until early this afternoon have been delayed, yet again, by signalling problems? How does he think competition will assist that line without the Government putting money into the infrastructure?

Mr. Freeman

We confidently expect resignalling work on the west coast main line, to be done by a consortium of private sector companies, to begin next summer, and that the work will be done faster than the public sector would have been able to do it.