§ Dame Jill Knight
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has now considered British Rail's formal investment case for the electrification of the Birmingham cross-city line; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Parkinson
I received British Rail's initial evaluation of tenders for electric rolling stock on 29 January 1990, and have now considered it in the light of earlier proposals for fixed works. The case for electrification is now fully established. I welcome the proposal. Passengers have had to put up with old and 653W worn-out trains for some time. The modernisation of this line will greatly improve the quality and reliability of the service for the people of the west midlands. The new rolling stock will offer a more comfortable ride, better lighting, sliding doors and faster journey times. The benefits will go wider than the cross-city line, as the stock will also be used on Coventry-Wolverhampton services in off-peak periods.
I have given approval to the whole scheme in principle and for works to electrify the line at a cost of about £18 million which will be completed by 1992. The scheme will be jointly funded by British Rail and the West Midlands passenger transport executive.
British Rail will select the type of electric rolling stock that it wishes to purchase later in the year when it has decided which of the offers it has had from manufacturers will give best value for money.