Railway Policy

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 4:37 pm on 26th June 1990.

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Photo of Mr Cecil Parkinson Mr Cecil Parkinson , Hertsmere 4:37 pm, 26th June 1990

That is a matter for the hon. Gentlemen.

This is the fourth debate that we have had on the railways in the past four months—three of them have been initiated by the Opposition, as the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East reminded us. Railways are an important part of our transport infrastructure, but, unlike the hon. Gentleman, we accept the need to keep their contribution in perspective. The hon. Gentleman is aware that the railways carry 7 per cent. of our freight and 8 per cent. of our passengers. We want to see those percentages grow and we are giving substantial backing to that end. Even if those percentages doubled—that would require huge investment and cause huge problems—it would still mean that 86 per cent. of our freight and 84 per cent. of our passengers would use other means of transport.

We recognise the contribution that the railways can make, but, unlike the Opposition, we are not obsessed about that. We are not unbalanced in our attitude to the railways. We see the railways as an important contribution towards solving our transport problems, but we do not consider them as the answer to those problems—that is the impression that the hon. Gentleman gives the whole time.