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Uneconomic Services, South-West England

Volume 649: debated on Wednesday 22 November 1961

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asked the Minister of Transport what reports he has received from the Central Transport Consultative Committee about progress in the closing of uneconomic railway services in the south-west; and what consideration is being given to the replacement of branch lines by alternative means of transport.

During 1961 a number of passengers and freight facilities in the south-west have been closed with the approval of the Central Committee. The Commission informs me that it is considering the economics of a number of others. Any further closure proposals will be submitted to the Consultative Committees, which will take into account what other transport services will be available.

My right hon. Friend will have been made aware already his afternoon of our concern about rural transport. Will he himself ensure that when these branch lines are closed for economic reasons other forms of public transport are definitely available?

That will be taken into account. Under the new Bill, the degree of hardships involved and the alternative facilities will be taken into consideration by the area committees.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider this aspect of the problem? It sometimes happens that alternative forms of transport are provided by buses, that these run for a short time, are then withdrawn and there is nothing left.

If the right hon. Gentleman has a case in mind in which he thinks that there has been an injustice, I should like to look into it. Broadly speaking, the British Transport Commission has sometimes provided these services at its own expense in order to provide alternative facilities.

Is the Minister aware that one of the branch lines to be closed is the Gwinear Road-Helston line in West Cornwall? Will he bear in mind the fact that, although British Railways give a summary of bus services now available, in five years' time many of these bus services may have disappeared and the people in the rural areas will suffer disastrously?