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Railway Closures

Volume 975: debated on Monday 10 December 1979

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asked the Minister of Transport whether he has any further statement to make, pursuant to his answers, Official Report, 5 December, cc. 412–13 and 417, regarding proposed railway closures.

At Question Time on 5 December I said that no list of railway closures was sent to me with British Rail's 1979 corporate review and that the only list of services for closure I had seen was the one published in The Guardian. The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) then said that he had with him the list of 40 services bearing the name of the Railways Board. He asserted that I had therefore misled the House. This assertion is untrue.The hon. Member later handed me his document. It is a list not of 40 services but of 85 services. My inquiries show that it was supplied by British Rail to the Central Transport Consultative Committee in January 1979. It is a list of all its "other provincial services" existing in 1978. The document was not sent to my Department, and in any event could not conceivably be a list of services for closure.The hon. Member also referred to the Railways Board's corporate review. This was sent to me by the chairman on 25 October and I have yet to discuss it with him. The review includes an evaluation of the financial effects of closing 40 passenger services as one of a number of options. But it contains no list of services for closure, or indeed any list of services whatever.As I have already made clear in the House, I have not nor have officials of my Department, discussed with the Railways Board a list of services for closure, or received such a list, since this Government took office.

My letter of 9 November to the chairman of British Rail clearly states that the option of closing 40 services is one that the Government reject. A copy of my letter is in the Library.

asked the Minister of Transport when he was first informed of the 40 closures approved for evaluation in the British Railways corporate review 1980 to 1984–89.

The Railways Board has made no secret of the policy that it has been advocating for some time to secure the substitution of bus services for some local rail services. The options which the Board decided to incorporate in its 1979 corporate review were settled at the end of 1978. As I told the House on 7 November, the corporate review was formally sent to me by the chairman on 25 October. It includes an evaluation of the financial effects of closing a total of 40 passenger services as one of a number of options. But it contains no list of services for closure. I have not, nor have officials of my Department, discussed with the Railways Board a list of services for closure or received such a list since this Government took office. As the House knows, I wrote to Sir Peter Parker on 9 November to make it clear to him that the option of closing 40 services is one that the Government reject. A copy of my letter is in the Library.