Orders of the Day — Rail Service (London-Cleethorpes)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:42 pm on 17th June 1992.

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Photo of Austin Mitchell Austin Mitchell , Great Grimsby 11:42 pm, 17th June 1992

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this debate. It shows great initiative and the determination of hon. Members to oppose the proposal. He is telling a story of deceit and incompetence. As a supporter of British Rail and public transport—indeed, I am a frequent user of it—I find it very hard to love British Rail or even to support or condone its behaviour. It made promises that it obviously had no intention of keeping and which it is now betraying, and it is badly letting down our area. Like the hon. Gentleman, I want it to know that we shall oppose its proposal tooth and nail with every weapon at our disposal.

Is not the most appalling aspect of the sorry saga the fact that British Rail is not only judge and jury in its own case but able to manipulate the evidence as well? It says that usage has not been adequate, but it is the controller of that usage. It looks as though it has set out deliberately to run down usage of that valuable service to our area by bringing the times forward to 6 am, a very inconvenient time, and changing them later in the evening so that people find it more difficult to spend a day in London and get back quickly. It has reduced services on the train, particularly breakfast and restaurant car services. Most appalling of all, it has cut out cheap fares on the service with the deliberate intention of keeping places empty, to fill up at Newark and beyond. In other words, it is depriving the people of Grimsby and Cleethorpes of the service by increasing the fares so that it can fill the train later on.

Does not that show that British Rail is prepared to fiddle the evidence so that it can use the remaining 125 trains for other purposes elsewhere which are more convenient to it but not to the area? Does not that show also that it will do the same thing again? If it takes off the service, it will then use the form in usage—