British Transport Commission (Annual Report)
Sir Richard Nugent (Guildford)
Yes. it will be published as soon as it can be printed. It is a surprisingly long document.
I wish now to turn to the reappraisal and to begin by thanking the chairman of the Commission and his colleagues for undertaking this magnum opus for us. It is a considerable work, as right hon. and hon. Members will appreciate when they read it. My right hon. Friend and I welcome the opportunity afforded by this debate to hear the views of hon. Members and we shall take them into account in our future studies of the reappraisal.
The Report is the product of an immense amount of work not only by the Commission but in the regions. It provides a valuable basis for assessing the future prospects of the railways. It is in three parts: a report on progress of the modernisation plan up to the end of 1958, a description of the plans of the Commission for the next five years and a forecast of the financial outlook. It confirms that the modernisation plan of 1955 was broadly right in outline, but it recommends that over the next four years there should be a rapid acceleration in re-equipment, especially in motive power from steam to electricity and diesel, in the wagon fleet and coaching stock, and a speeding up in the general process of rationalisation and streamlining of the railways to meet modern conditions.
Under this plan, the greater part of what was originally intended to take place by 1970 will be done by 1963, so that a very rapid acceleration is visualised. Paragraph 56 tells us that there will actually be less equipment in use in 1963 under the plan than would still have been in use in 1970 under the original plan. If this can be achieved, the Commission predicts that by 1963 there will be a working surplus of between £50 million and £100 million against central charges of about £85 million.