§ Dr. Stoate
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding and subsidy arrangements are available from(a) central Government and (b) other national and European-based agencies to companies who wish to transport goods (a) into the United Kingdom and (b) across the United Kingdom by rail. 
§ Mr. McNulty
The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) announced a £22 million Company Neutral Revenue Support grant from April to help the movement of domestic intermodal and deep-sea container traffic by rail instead of road where this is justified by environmental benefits.1780W
The SRA also operates the Freight Facilities Grant and the Track Access Grant schemes to support the cost of moving goods by rail instead of road within the UK where this is justified by environmental benefits. The Freight Facilities Grant is currently suspended.
In 2003 the EU agreed a five-year funding programme called "Marco Polo" to encourage intermodal freight transport. Aid may be offered to schemes that involve at least two member states, subject to conditions. The total budget for the five-year period is 75 million euros.
§ Albert Owen
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with Network Rail on improving line speeds on the track between Holyhead and Chester. 
§ Mr. McNulty
None. The SRA is actively considering the issues on the North Wales coast and investigating cost effective line speed increases which may be achievable through modest signal and track works. It must first address deliverability and planning issues. In doing so, it is consulting stakeholders, including the Welsh Assembly, about its proposals as part of the ongoing work on the West Coast Strategy. Any commitment to future improvements that may demonstrate value for money will only be given if the project is affordable, and subject to other funding priorities.
§ Mrs. May
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria were used by the Strategic Rail Authority in determining its policy of giving priority to long-distance services over local services when letting new railway franchises. 
§ Mr. Darling
The Strategic Rail Authority does not have a policy of giving priority to long-distance services over local services when letting new railway franchises.