HL Deb 17 February 2000 vol 609 cc170-1WA
Lord Tomlinson

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have received the consultant's report they commissioned on regional Eurostar services. [HL1108]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston)

Arthur D Little's report on regional Eurostar services is published today. We have placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses.

The report considers whether Eurostar services directly serving the English regions and Scotland would be financially viable, and what wider transport and social benefits they would bring. The consultants consulted widely with local and regional authorities and groups. The report provides an independent assessment of the costs and impacts of a range of options.

Under Section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987, the British Railways Board, now part of the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority, has a duty to prepare a plan for regional international rail services. The board is now reviewing its 1989 plan. It will no doubt wish to consider the Arthur D Little report in that review, which it expects to conclude in early summer. In the longer term, the Strategic Rail Authority will have a duty to produce a strategy for services in various parts of Great Britain for facilitating the carriage of passengers by way of the Channel Tunnel.

We are today giving the go-ahead for Eurostar UK Limited to lease some of the regional trains to GNER for a limited period for additional services on the East Coast Main Line. This will allow regional passengers to enjoy an immediate benefit from the investment made in these trains while leaving open future options for the use of the trains for regional Eurostar services. This arrangement accords with the recommendation of the Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs that leasing to a domestic rail operator should be considered while decisions on regional Eurostar services were under review.