HC Deb 21 July 2000 vol 354 c349W
Mr. Pollard

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action his Department is taking to ensure that Railtrack's plans for the West Coast Mainline upgrade provide sufficient train paths to make possible an expansion of existing commuter and freight services; and if he will make a statement. [130232]

Mr. Hill

The Rail Regulator and the Franchising Director are ensuring that the needs of all train operators using the West Coast Main Line (WCML) are met by Railtrack's plans for the provision of train paths. The Rail Regulator has issued an order requiring Railtrack to produce final plans and options for the WCML upgrade. In particular, he is seeking information about the extent to which these plans would meet the capacity commitments which Railtrack gave to the Rail Regulator in April 1998. The Rail Regulator also issued a consultation document on 20 June about reviewing the increased costs associated with the WCML upgrade as part of his periodic review of Railtrack's access charges. He is consulting widely on these costs, which have risen from the original estimate of £2.3 billion to a new figure in the region of £5.85 billion. These figures will be subjected to considerable scrutiny and discussion with the Franchising Director before the Rail Regulator announces his draft conclusions later this month.