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Railways (Electrification)

Volume 114: debated on Monday 6 April 1987

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9.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he has received any recent representations concerning the electrification of railway lines serving south Wales.

The Secretary of State has received no recent representations on that matter.

Does the Minister appreciate that if the Government are serious about the Channel tunnel project, let alone the future well-being of the Welsh economy, electrification should go ahead without any further delay, and coupled with that should be the development, not the closure, of the Severn tunnel junction?

The form of locomotion that is used between Wales and the Channel tunnel does not necessarily have a direct bearing on the availability of services. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the needs of Wales, which are considerable and well understood, will be borne in mind.

Is it not a disgrace that not a single mile of railway line in Wales is electrified? If the Government, as suggested by the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Adley) a few moments ago, take credit for the electrification of the east coast line, surely they must take responsibility for the failure to electrify the railways in Wales?

There is no implicit failure on the part of British Rail if it has not discovered that it is possible to provide the most efficient, fast and punctual services in Wales by electrification. Modern diesel multiple units, such as the Sprinter train, can provide almost the same standard of service as electrification, and where the numbers travelling are lower and the frequencies fewer than in the intensively used parts of the system, it makes much better value for money for British Rail to provide diesel services.