HC Deb 03 July 1995 vol 263 cc3-4
3. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about investment in the Northern line of London Underground. [30117]

The Minister for Transport in London (Mr. Steve Norris)

Prospects for the Northern line have rarely looked better. Angel station has been completely rebuilt at a cost of £72 million, and London Underground is currently renovating 10 stations at the southern end of the line. The entire fleet of trains is being replaced under the private finance initiative, with the first train entering service in the middle of next year.

Mr. Marshall

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and I look forward to having a glass of champagne with him on the first new train next year. Will he allow London Underground to discuss with private entrepreneurs the possibility of using the private finance initiative to improve signalling and the track, and to introduce automatic ticket barriers on the Northern line?

Mr. Norris

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his consistent and persistent support of the campaign to improve the Northern line on behalf of his constituents. He knows that I could not possibly help myself to a glass of his champagne as London Transport has a no alcohol policy, to which of course I would want to adhere. That notwithstanding, he is right. Now is the time that we should be considering how we can apply the principles of the private finance initiative to other sectors such as signalling and power supply, as well as the successful deal on trains.

Ms Glenda Jackson

I welcome the Minister's reply about the southern end the Northern line, but he must be aware that Hampstead is the deepest station in the whole network. When can we look for improvements at the northern end of the Northern line?

Mr. Norris

I shall not be doing anything to raise Hampstead station, if that is what the hon. Lady is implying. At the southern end, as she knows, we are improving stations that are not in a satisfactory condition. I welcome her support for the idea that we might get the private sector involved in some renovation work north of the Thames, as there is no doubt that that has proved an extremely lucrative way in which we can improve the system, for the benefit of passengers. I am delighted to have her support.