§ Mr. Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will approve British Rail's proposals for new class 159 vehicles for the Waterloo to Exeter route.
§ Mr. Freeman
The passengers who use the Waterloo-Exeter route are currently getting a service which is below the standard they are entitled to expect, in spite of the best efforts of Network SouthEast managers and staff.
The replacement of the old and unreliable trains on the line has been a priority for both British Rail and the Government.
British Rail put to me a sound case for 69 class 159 vehicles to be introduced on the Waterloo-Exeter route, most of which will be converted class 158s, and I approved its proposal today.
It means that passengers can look forward to a modern, reliable and comfortable service at least a year sooner than would otherwise have been possible.