HC Deb 18 October 1972 vol 843 cc75-6W
36. Mr. Bagier

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has to reduce the network mileage on British Rail from 11,700 miles to 7,000 miles; and if he will make a statement.

39. Mr. Hooson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish immediately the full report prepared in his Department containing proposals for wholesale closures of branch lines on British Rail.

Mr. Peter Walker

As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport Industries indicated yesterday, the document to which theSunday Times drew attention on 8th October is merely one of a series of studies undertaken by officials in my Department and by British Rail themselves. This process, which is not yet complete, is made necessary by the financial position of the board. Future policy will not be decided before there has been the most careful consideration of the alternatives and the costs attaching to each.

Meanwhile, I am sure that the House will wish to avoid premature conclusions about the results of these studies, and will have in mind the grants and loans already made by the Government to the railways—£100 million in 1971 and an estimated £160 million in 1972. These figures include for the first time in history grants for 75 per cent. of the cost of new trains and signalling for use in urban areas.

In addition, the Government are pressing on with the studies on the building of a Channel Tunnel. If this proved to be viable it would link up the railway system of Britain to the railway system of Europe with all the opportunities that that would present to British railways.

I regret very much that this confidential working document should have been disclosed, and that its publication, completely out of context, should have given rise to widespread and unnecessary anxiety.—[Vol. 843, c. 47.]

51. Mr. Jay

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on the future structure of British Rail.

Mr. Peyton

I would refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan).—[Vol. 843 c.47.]

52. Mr. Bagier

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will ensure that consultations between his Department and British Rail about the future size of British Rail include the representatives of railway trade unions.

Mr. Peyton


Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will take account of the impact upon the morale of management and workers in British Rail of proposals being considered by his Department to curtail still further the British Rail system throughout Great Britain; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Walker

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given today in reply to a Question by the hon. Members for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) and Montgomery (Mr. Hooson).