§ 2. Mr. Skinner
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will now make a further statement about the need for electrification of the midland line.
§ The Minister for Railways and Roads (Mr. John Watts)
Investment priorities are a matter for Railtrack in consultation with the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising and the train operating companies.
§ Mr. Skinner
Would it not make more sense for the Government to favour rail, especially the electrification of the midland line, rather than spend billions of pounds on motorway widening? Many projects, including the widening of the M1 between intersections 28 and 31, cost millions of pounds and many people object to them. Would it not be better to spend the money on rail and to favour rail rather than to widen parts of the M1? That would be a better investment in the end.
§ Mr. Watts
The public expenditure settlement provides for investment in the coming year of about £1 billion in the railway network and about £1.8 billion in the trunk road network. In a balanced transport policy, it is clearly important to invest adequately in both modes. Railtrack is aware of the desire of local authorities and people in the area, in particular, for improvements to the midland main line and is about to embark on a study of the various options available for such developments. Railtrack will be working closely with train operators and local authorities during that study.