Railways

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 7th September 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes Labour/Co-operative, Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley 2:30 pm, 7th September 2004

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport about transferring further responsibility for railways in Scotland to the Scottish Executive.

Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Secretary of State for Transport

In July, I published my proposals in relation to railways in the White Paper "The Future of Rail". It sets out proposals for transferring further responsibility for rail in Scotland to the Scottish Executive.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes Labour/Co-operative, Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I am sure that his advocacy skills help in all his discussions. However, now that more power has been transferred to the Scottish Executive, I hope that he will ask them not to be too convinced by Mr. Darling arguing for more money to be put into Waverley station, especially if that is at the expense of a more frequent and reliable rail service to Prestwick, which is Scotland's fastest-growing airport.

Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Secretary of State for Transport

I found my discussions with the Secretary of State for Transport to be the most fruitful that I had during the entire consultation process; certainly, we were both absolutely agreed on the outcome.

In relation to Edinburgh Waverley, it is well known that that station needs substantial investment. Railtrack made a complete botch of it. The Scottish Executive, Network Rail, the Strategic Rail Authority and Edinburgh city council have had useful meetings about improving the station. Under the proposals that I made in July, in future it will be for the Scottish Executive to specify what they want in terms of track, stations and services. My right hon. Friend is right, however, that the rail link to Prestwick is equally important. Part of the reason for the success of the airport and development there is that that railway line provides a very good service for people travelling on it.