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Electrification, Kent

Volume 648: debated on Wednesday 8 November 1961

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40.

asked the Minister of Transport what progress has been made with the electrification, under the capital development plan, of railway lines in Kent in the past year; and what improvements to railway fences were made at the same time.

:The British Transport Commission tells me that by last month all railway lines in Kent had been electrified, with the exception of the lines from Tonbridge and Ashford to Hastings, and the Isle of Grain branch, which are not included in the scheme for electrification. The fencing has been brought up to the standards required by our Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the news about electrification. Is he aware that the farming community and every parent in Kent is extremely perturbed about the state of the fencing? Does he know that his statement about the fencing being brought up to standard is not in accordance with the experience of the National Farmers' Union? Further, is he aware that the fencing within half-a-mile of where there was a fatal accident earlier this year is still said to be in a deplorable state? Will my hon. Friend go into the matter more closely as soon as possible?

I am informed that we have not recently received representations from the National Farmers' Union about the fencing of the electrified lines. As I said in my original Answer, the fencing adjoining the electrified lines in Kent has been brought up to the standard required by our Chief Inspecting Officer. However, if there is a particular case which my hon. Friend would like me to look into, I will certainly do so.

Will my hon Friend look into not one case but a list of at least twenty which I have in my hand?

In view of the general concern about electrification as a whole, will the hon. Gentleman consider preparing a graph, or some other indication, showing the state of progress of electrification compared with the last reappraisal of the modernisation work of the railways?

I will consider that, but I doubt whether progress in electrification lends itself to graphical presentation in the way in which the hon. Member suggests. However, I will look into it.