§ Mr. Hopkins
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the proposal to build a freight railway by Central Railway Ltd. 
§ Mr. Spellar
[holding answer 14 March 2002]I have written to the Chairman of Central Railway informing him of my response to his request for support for a hybrid Bill as a means of authorising the company's proposed freight railway.
The Government have made clear that we are committed to rail freight growth as a key element of sustainable distribution. To that end we will wish to support, in principle, projects that offer value for money in both the economic and environmental benefits they can bring to the country.
In considering Central Railway's request for early Government support for a Bill to promote its own project, I have taken into account a number of factors and listened to representations from many interested parties. In our view there is not enough evidence at the moment to enable the Government to support a hybrid Bill for Central Railway's project.
With the help of consultants and with the co-operation of Central Railway, the SRA will therefore carry out a further detailed assessment in order to test key remaining areas of the proposals. This is an essential piece of work if the Government are to be able to take an informed decision about Central Railway's hybrid Bill. The SRA anticipates that work to be completed by September.