§ 21. Sir Gilbert Longden
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now issue a general direction to British Rail to seek to increase the use of the railways for transporting passengers and freight; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir Gilbert Longden
I hope I shall get more satisfaction from my right hon. Friend's supplementary answer than I 1435 received from that answer. At a time when our roads are becoming more and more crowded, when we are told that the number of motor cars will double in 10 years and when the roads are made hideous and dangerous by freight traffic transported by heavy lorries, is it not sheer folly to fail to make as much use as we can of the iron roads which we already have?
§ Mr. Peyton
It is always my wish to avoid being unhelpful to my hon. Friend. I would not wish to encourage the railways into carrying more traffic which they do not want to carry and which is uneconomical for them. On the whole it is the block train load which is the most suitable traffic for the railways. I regard this as a matter of management and not one appropriate for a general directive.
§ Mr. David Stoddart
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that his hon. Friend is absolutely right in putting forward the traffic difficulties which are being experienced, and does he appreciate that for the improvement of the environment it will be necessary for the railways to carry more traffic? Will he consider taking over the signalling and track costs of the railways and making grants to private firms for private sidings which would encourage them to send goods by rail instead of road?
§ Mr. Peyton
The hon. Gentleman calls attention, as if it were necessary, to the fact that my hon. Friend is normally right. On the other hand, it is for me to point out that there are difficulties, including adding to the uneconomic traffic which the railways carry. I do not wish to do that because I think it would be a wrong policy.