§ Mr. Hoyle
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he will be taking, in conjunction with British Rail, to improve services on the west coast main line; and what plans he has for the modernisation of track and signalling on that route;
(2) if he will guarantee the future of the west coast main line as a high-speed route between London, Warrington and Glasgow.
§ Mr. Freeman
The Government fully appreciate the importance of modernising the west coast main line. British Rail has set aside funds for design work to renew the infrastructure. From April next year, following our reform of the railways, responsibility for infrastructure will pass to Railtrack. In the meantime, the Government have taken the initiative in appointing Hambros bank to devise proposals for a joint venture to renew the infrastructure on the west coast main line. This is a new departure in the private finance initiative for railways. Instead of waiting for the private sector to come forward with proposals which may or may not be acceptable to the Government, Hambros has been tasked to find a solution which meets the Government's guidelines and will be attractive to the private sector. Hambros will be reporting later in the autumn.