asked the Minister of Transport if he will cease to classify as investment the renewal of British Railways track.
I have agreed with the British Railways board that the money it can spend on renewing its track should be deployed in the most cost-effective way. This means changing the present rules which classify some but not all methods of track renewal as investment. Accordingly, renewal of the track by continuous welded rail, which has now become the cheapest form of renewal in most circumstances, will no longer be classified as subject to the ceiling set on the board's investment. The ceiling for 1980–81 and future years will in consequence be adjusted to exclude the provision for continuous welded rail. The agreed adjustment will be the average annual level of spend over the last five years—£70 million at 1979 survey prices.