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Suburban Railways (Electrification)

Volume 155: debated on Monday 12 June 1922

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport whether, seeing that the Government have undertaken to guarantee capital expenditure of six and a half millions by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies for the electrification of their suburban lines; that it is a condition of the guarantee that the work shall be started at an early date and be carried out within three years, and that the generation of the necessary power shall be done at cost price; that the formal application of the railways to the Electricity Commissioners for consent to erect a generating station for the working of the lines is opposed by the West Kent Company; that this company are themselves promoting a scheme for putting up a station at Erith, and are pressing to have the railway load in order to improve the financial position of what is in the nature of a speculative enterprise; that practically all the shares in the West Kent Company are owned by the South Metropolitan Company, who have recently joined a large group of London electricity supply companies; that the opposition of the West Kent Company, if successful, is likely to delay the electrification of these railway lines, and to increase the cost of power supply for the working of the lines; that any uncertainty of supply or inflated cost will have to be borne by the railway passengers; and that the erection of a non-purchaseable capital station at Erith will seriously affect the purchase rights of the London County Council, he will state whether the Advisory Committee under the Trade Facilities Act were aware, when they came to the agreement to assist the railway companies, that the consent of the Commissioners would be necessary for putting up the station; and whether there was any consultation between the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport on the subject?

The answer to both parts of the question is in the affirmative. I must not, however, be taken to concur in all the statements of the preamble, many of which are matters for argument.

Is there any hope, in view of the large amount of unemployment in the area, that consent will be given at an early date?