Rail Electrification

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th April 1983.

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Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst , Saffron Walden 12:00 am, 20th April 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria he currently applies in determining railway electrification schemes submitted by British Rail.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

On main line services, we require acceptable plans for the commercial operation of the intercity and freight businesses, and a good prospect, on the basis of those plans, that the investment will earn a 7 per cent. return on the capital employed. On other lines, the case for electrification depends on whether this is the most cost-effective way of maintaining a rail passenger service.

Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst , Saffron Walden

Could greater weight be given to the convenience of the travelling public, and will my hon. Friend take pity on commuters on the Cambridge line who use the intermediate stations, who travel in what must be the worse conditions on British Rail?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I note my hon. Friend's point, and within the context of financial viability, we shall do our best to keep that in mind. As he knows, British Rail has proposed electrification on the Cambridge line from both Royston and Bishops Stortford. It has been asked to consider whether it would be more cost-effective to electrify only one of those lines. We await further information from British Rail before making a decision.

Photo of Mr Tom Bradley Mr Tom Bradley , Leicester East

Is the Minister aware that the Secretary of State, in reply to a question from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) earlier this afternoon, created the impression that the proposals that he received recently from British Rail for a cost-benefit analysis of electrification of main lines up to 1988 did not include electrification from Bedford to Sheffield? Will he clarify that matter?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

My right hon. Friend made clear the position about the prospectus that has been received from British Rail. That is now being considered with regard to the development about which the hon. Gentleman asked.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

Whatever criteria have been applied, how many proposals for electrification that have been approved by the Government have been implemented?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

At least one is being implemented.

Photo of Mr Anthony Durant Mr Anthony Durant , Reading North

Will my hon. Friend give priority to, and move higher up the priority list, the electrification of the western routes, bearing in mind that many of the diesel trains on those routes are becoming very old and are causing difficulty in the western region?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

My hon. Friend will know that such proposals must come in the first instance from British Rail, but I shall draw his point to its attention.

Photo of Mr Albert Booth Mr Albert Booth , Barrow-in-Furness

Does the prospectus put forward by British Rail to the Government for inter-city rail development, or the total investment programme up to 1988, contain a proposal to electrify the main line to Sheffield?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

The prospectus relates to the entire intercity network. The document to which the right hon. Gentleman refers does not include such an electrification proposal.