HL Deb 26 January 1960 vol 220 cc639-40

3.15 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps the Minister of Transport proposes to take to cope with the traffic block caused by the railway level-crossing at Sunningdale, on the main London-Southampton road (A.30).]


My Lords, it is unfortunately impracticable to alter the A.30 trunk road or the railway at Sunningdale so as to relieve the road traffic congestion caused by the level crossing. My right honourable friend is, however, planning a new motorway from Sunbury Common to beyond Basingstoke which will take through traffic off the A.30 and thus largely eliminate the congestion at Sunningdale. A provisional line for this new road has been protected in the county development plans and further survey work is now in progress with a view to the publication in due course of a draft scheme under Section 11 of The Highways Act, 1959. It will necessarily be some time before the construction of this project can be started.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for his reply and the information which he has given us, I should like to ask him whether he is aware that, as things stand at the moment on the A.30 road and the road to the south-west, in the hours between 8 a.m. and midnight on a normal midweek day the road is stopped to traffic for 5¼ hours each day to allow the passage of 80 passenger trains and 9 goods trains—these figures are from British Railways—and that adds up to 30 per cent. of the time when the road traffic should be proceeding; whether he agrees that such a state of affairs is quite unacceptable and that all steps should be taken to amend it in the shortest possible period of time?


My Lords, I am aware of all those facts. I have not gone so far as to multiply the amount of time the gates are shut by the number of trains, but I have no doubt the noble Lord's arithmetic is correct. I am also, needless to say, aware of the trouble, because I think almost everybody is who uses that road. But also I am aware of the fact that all the efforts to find some way of alleviating this nuisance have come to nothing. There is no practical way—either putting the road over or under the railway, or the railway under the road, or finding another way round—and we are forced to the conclusion that an alternative road is the only solution.


My Lords, could the noble Lord say whether the Transport Commission has a policy for the gradual elimination of level crossings which cause traffic blocks?


So far as I am aware, my Lords, yes.


My Lords, with respect, there were local plans 25 years ago for Sunningdale, to put that road underneath the railway on the ascot side where there is already a road. It is quite a small road and quite a small bridge that exists. Those plans were discussed locally years before the war. I would ask the noble Lord whether he would take steps to resuscitate those plans.


My Lords, I will say that at least I could look into the matter.