§ Richard Burden
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the impact of rail traffic congestion at and around Birmingham New Street station on the performance of the national rail network. 
§ Mr. McNulty
The Strategic Rail. Authority (SRA) has developed a 'Capacity Utilisation Policy' aimed at delivering the most efficient use of the current network. Individual 'Route Utilisation Strategies' (RUS) will now be developed. The SRA intends to consult on the RUS for the West Midlands in Spring 2004. The outcomes are expected to include improved capacity and performance.
The SRA has also announced a new approach to the long term planning of the railway network through Regional Planning Assessments (RPAs). These will form the basis on which the development of Britain's railway is planned over the medium to longer term (5-20 years). The provisional date for the publication of the West Midlands RPA is Autumn 2004.