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Railways

Volume 411: debated on Wednesday 6 June 1945

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London-Aberdeen Service (Restaurant Cars)

41.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in view of the fact that the journey between London and Aberdeen takes between13 and 14 hours, he can now cancel his instructions to the railway companies and so enable them to provide restaurant or buffet car facilities on that route.

The provision of restaurant or buffet car facilities reduces the number of seats that can be provided. Passenger services are likely to be heavily loaded for some time to come, and I regret that I am unable to say when it will be possible to provide these facilities on the journey between London and Aberdeen.

Could not my hon. Friend leave it to the railway companies? If he would remove his restrictions, there would be only one obstacle, and the railway companies could run these facilities if they were able to do so.

I have had special inquiry made into this matter recently, and I understand that the introduction of restaurant cars would reduce the seating accommodation, both because they cannot take so many people, and also because of the weight involved. However, I am keeping this matter in view, and if anything can be done I will do it.

Does not my hon. Friend think it is more important that there should be more sleeping cars rather than restaurant cars on the trains to Aberdeen?

I am, of course, aware of the limitations of transport in all directions. Restaurant cars cannot be provided as long as there is a shortage of seating accommodation.

Would it not be a good idea to advise the railway companies that John Citizen should have a chance of getting a seat for the ticket he buys?

Cheltenham-London Service

44.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport if he can now provide a fast train per day, each way, between Cheltenham and London, in view of the fact that at present the scheduled time of this journey of 100 miles is about four hours.

This matter is being reviewed, and I will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as possible.

While I thank my hon. Friend for his reply, will he bear in mind that Cheltenham is about the worst served of any city in the country?

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that most of these trains have to stop twice at every station between Swindon and Gloucester, and that the delay is really intolerable?

Holiday Transport

66.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether he is satisfied that sufficient engines, carriages and trains will be available to provide holiday transport for the large number of workers who, for the first time, will be granted holidays with pay this summer and autumn; and, in view of the fact that the few extra non-scheduled trains now provided are, at present overcrowded, what improvements does he intend to apply.

My Noble Friend has asked the railways to run this summer such additional trains as their resources permit and the traffic requires, subject only to the overriding condition that they do not interfere with essential traffic. The number of additional trains the railways can provide for holiday traffic will undoubtedly be limited by shortage of engines and carriages.

As the trains already provided are cluttered up and packed to suffocation now, and there will be no more available, what chances have war-workers, or those who have made the munitions to win the war, got of getting a holiday this year and getting some comfort on the trains?

Everybody will have the same opportunity in this matter, but the hon. Member should not underestimate the difficulties we are in with the repairs and building programme.

If the hon. Gentleman will look at the Questions to the Minister of Labour to-morrow, he will find that I have not done so.