HL Deb 23 April 1964 vol 257 cc847-8

3.5 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 the circumstances under which permission was given for the "bus stop line service" advertised on stations on the Minehead-Taunton railway, on which there is at present no proposal for the withdrawal of passenger train services; in particular, whether the additional bus service is an experimental one, or whether it is the intention to run both bus and passenger train services.]


My Lords, the British Railways Board do not require the authority of my right honourable friend for the service to which I understand the noble Lord to refer. The operation of railway services is, as the noble Lord is aware, the responsibility of the British Railways Board. But in order to help the noble Lord, I have ascertained from the Board that they have no plans at present to alter either the simplified ticket-issuing scheme on the rail service, or the arrangement with a bus operator by which one evening train is replaced by a bus. My right honourable friend would be concerned with any changes in this service only if there were a proposal to withdraw passenger services completely from the line or from a station, and the proposal was opposed.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his extremely satisfactory answer. May I now ask him whether he can explain a little more what this bus stop line service is—whether it means a train or a bus? Is the noble Lord aware that, because of the increased freight and passenger traffic due to the development of Butlin's holiday camp at Minehead, this line is now viable?


My Lords, of course I cannot answer for the Board's managerial arrangements, but I did inform myself about this subject. If the noble Lord will take it as being merely a factual statement, I would explain that what has happened is that the 9.15 evening train between Taunton and Minehead has been replaced by a bus from Monday to Thursday inclusive, but the train runs on Friday and Saturday. I understand that this has been done as an economy measure, because that train was very lightly used and went back to Taunton empty to "stable", and thus was an expensive train to run. A sensible arrangement, so it seems to me, was made to replace that service, at no cost to the Board, by rearranging the existing bus service with Western National, who were only too glad to do this, and it has been slightly re-scheduled to tie in better with the trains.


My Lords, I agree that it is a most satisfactory and sensible thing to do, but if there is any considerable extension of such services, will the noble Lord have regard to the fact that the width of the road from Taunton to Minehead is considerably less than the minimum width for a road specified by his Department, and that there can be no major extensions of such services without very great cost of road-widening?


My Lords, at the moment I have heard nothing of such extensions and therefore what the noble Lord has asked is a hypothetical question; but I have no doubt that, if there were any such proposals, due regard would be given to this kind of point.

Back to