British Railways (Diesel Fleet)

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th February 1981.

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Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Keighley 12:00 am, 25th February 1981

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what consultations have taken place with British Railways regarding investment to replace the diesel multiple unit fleet.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler The Secretary of State for Transport

The British Railways Board is not yet in a position to submit detailed proposals to me for replacing the diesel multiple unit fleet since it has not yet decided on the replacement vehicle or vehicles.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Keighley

Will the Minister encourage British Rail to produce a substitute design? If secondary routes, such as the Keighley-Bradford and Keighley-Leeds services, are to be improved and provide a speedy and reliable service, British Rail will have to come forward with new designs in the very near future. The lightweight railbuses with which British Rail is currently experimenting are no satisfactory solution. Will the Minister accept that encouraging British Rail to produce new designs and having a proper level of investment will unquestionably help to reduce the disgraceful level of unemployment which was revealed yesterday?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler The Secretary of State for Transport

I agree with most of what the hon. Gentleman says. Obviously, the railbus has an application in some areas. I am not claiming for one moment that it has an application in all areas. At the moment, we are awaiting the investment submission from the board for the replacement of the DMU fleet. I am afraid that I shall have to wait for that before giving a substantive answer to the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley Mr Robert Adley , Christchurch and Lymington

With regard to investment in new passenger and freight transport, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is widespread feeling on each side of the House that the sooner he comes to a positive decision on electrification—I hope in favour of it—the better we shall all like it?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler The Secretary of State for Transport

That subject comes up under the next question.