§ Mr. David Steel
asked the Minister of Transport whether she will now add to her reply of 9th February concerning the future of passenger services on the Edinburgh-Hawick-Carlisle railway line on which she then hoped shortly to give her decision.
§ Mr. John Morris
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has recently appointed an Economic Planning Consultative Group for the Borders. The group will be able to draw on the comprehensive survey now being carried out by consultants from Edinburgh University and will be putting its views to the Scottish Economic Planning Council on the ultimate value of the line for the economy of this area. He expects the Economic Planning Council to be able to make its full assessment by the beginning of next year.
It is right that consideration should at the same time be given to the effects which 61W any closure of the line might have on existing users and the extent to which hardship, if any, could be mitigated by alternative services. These are matters for the Scottish Transport Users Consultative Committee, operating under the procedure laid down in the Transport Act, 1962.
My right hon. Friend is therefore informing the Railways Board that it may publish the proposal under the Transport Act, but I would emphasise that this action in no way prejudges her eventual decision.