Channel Tunnel Rail Link

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd April 1995.

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Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice , Pendle 12:00 am, 3rd April 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimates he has made of the public subsidy likely to be required to (a) construct the channel tunnel rail link and (b) operate services on it. [15710]

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

The level of public sector support for the construction of the channel tunnel rail link will be determined by the competition currently under way to select a private sector promoter for the rail link. The Government do not intend to subsidise the private sector operation of international services.

Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice , Pendle

Is the Minister aware that Eurorail, whose chairman is Lord Parkinson, has put in a bid to construct the rail link? Is that not strange and remarkable behaviour from the noble Lord, given that he spiked the project five years ago, when he said that it should receive no public subsidy whatever?

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

I do not find it in the least strange that any one of the four consortiums should have put in bids to build the link.

Photo of Mr Jacques Arnold Mr Jacques Arnold , Gravesham

Bearing in mind the fact that the north Kent line is subsidised, along with the other commuter services in the London area, is not one advantage of the channel tunnel rail link that it will cut commuting speeds from Gravesend from 50 minutes to 19 minutes on the high-speed rail link?

Photo of Mr John Watts Mr John Watts , Slough

My hon. Friend has pointed out one of the important domestic benefits that flow from the construction of that link.