1. Mr. John P. Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet the chairman of British Rail to discuss the reopening of the Vale of Glamorgan railway line to passenger transport.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Patrick McLoughlin)
It is for British Rail to consider the case for reopening this line to passenger use.
The Minister will be pleased to hear that many of my constituents welcomed the recent statement by the Secretary of State for Transport about the new commitment and investment in rail transport and switching transport from road to rail. Is he aware that they welcomed the statement because they have suffered over the past few years from the familiar problems of traffic congestion, noise and pollution? The reopening of the Vale of Glamorgan freight line to passengers would solve that problem and provide a very attractive tourist magnet and a vital link to Cardiff-Wales airport. We welcome the statement and we hope that the Minister will ask the chairman at least to carry out a feasibility study for 2 opening the line. I am afraid that some of my constituents are saying that it is all very well for the Government to make a statement, but they should put their money where their mouth is.
§ Mr. McLoughlin
The Government put their money where their mouth is and that is why last week my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State announced the increase in funds available to British Rail. We need no lectures from the Labour party about the importance of British Rail. We have presided over a net opening of stations while the previous Labour Government presided over closures.
§ Mr. Simon Coombs
Does my hon. Friend agree that the chances of reopening the Vale of Glamorgan railway line would be considerably enhanced by the privatisation of British Rail? In that context, can he comment on the Government's progress in considering the possibilities of privatisation?
§ Mr. McLoughlin
An important part of the speech made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State not so long ago was our intention to end the monopoly under which British Rail runs on the railways. That will bring competition to the railways and it will be better for the future of British Rail and provide opportunities for new lines to be opened.