Belford Rail Station

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 6th March 2007.

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Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Chair, Constitutional Affairs Committee 2:30 pm, 6th March 2007

If he will visit Belford, Northumberland to discuss plans for reopening the railway station.

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I currently have no plans to visit Belford. It is up to the relevant regional and local authorities to develop a business case with Network Rail for proposals of this nature. I am not aware that any detailed proposals have been put forward to reopen the station at Belford.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Chair, Constitutional Affairs Committee

But they have been, twice. If the Minister tried to come to Belford, he would not be able to get off the train. It stops there twice a day, but the building of a platform has been obstructed by bureaucracy. One element of that is that Network Rail has refused to submit the safety case to the Health and Safety Executive. The Minister is relatively new, but cannot he knock some heads together and secure some progress so that Belford people can start raising money—as they have done before—to get the platform built? When that happens, they can leave the car and take the train.

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I am always eager to knock heads together, but local stakeholders must put a business case together and raise the money that is needed. They do not need my permission to do that. The first Northumberland local transport plan included reopening Belford station, but the right hon. Gentleman will be aware that that proposal is missing from the current LTP.

Photo of Ronnie Campbell Ronnie Campbell Labour, Blyth Valley

If the Minister does get off his backside and look at Belford, will he pop into Blyth Valley to see the rail link from Blyth to the Tyne and Wear metro system? That link has been disused for a long time, but we are trying to open it up again.

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Its a pity that Lord Beeching could not have seen how Blyth, Bedlington, and towns beyond have thrived inspite of loosing most of their industries, Blyth...

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Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I think my hon. Friend may have just made me an offer I cannot refuse.