§ 27. Mr. Foster
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to make more money available to British Railways through the public service obligation to continue operating branch and rural lines in the Eastern region.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
My right hon. Friend has already announced in December that the ceiling on central Government payments of public service obligation grant for 1981 will be £678 million, which is £23 million more than previously planned. This grant is paid towards the passenger railway as a whole. Moreover, my right hon. Friend and I have made it clear on many occasions that we are not prepared to agree to substantial cuts in the rail passenger network—in Eastern region or anywhere else. We believe that the future of rural services and branch lines will best be secured by increased efficiency and productivity, and by the adoption of low-cost methods of operation.