HC Deb 29 October 1998 vol 318 cc248-9W
Mr. Öpik

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what assessment his Department has made of the potential for increasing the level of freight on the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth line; and if he will make a statement; [56920]

(2) what has been the level of freight traffic on the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth line during each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [56919]

Ms Glenda Jackson

I understand from Railtrack that there has been no freight traffic on the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth line in the last three years, because of capacity and structural problems. The company also tells me that it has received no expressions of interest from any potential freight customers in a freight service on the line.

The Government have made substantial sums available for freight grants, which are designed to assist companies in moving freight from road to rail. The spend on such grants was doubled to £30 million in our first year in office and the budget for the current year was increased further to £40 million. In launching the Integrated Transport White Paper in July, the Deputy Prime Minister made it clear that still further money would be found for these grants, if there was demand. Nevertheless, it is for the commercial railway interests or freight customers to propose schemes and make application for grants.