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Ec (Rail Transport)

Volume 129: debated on Thursday 10 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what response the Government are making to the call by the Economic and Social Committee of the European Economic Community in April 1987, repeated at the Mannheim conference in October 1987, for member states to quantify and apply in their transport policies the environmental, energy and safety advantages of rail over road transport; and if he will make a statement.

The Government do not at present intend to respond formally to the views expressed by the Economic and Social Committee, since it is for the EC Commission to decide whether to submit proposals for Community legislation to the Council of Ministers.However, the Government accept that where investment in the grant-aided passenger railway would have significant benefits for the community, for example in reducing road congestion by attracting more passengers to the railway, and which could not be paid for through fares, those benefits should be included in the project appraisal. Furthermore, the Government recognise the substantial environmental benefits that the transfer of road freight to rail can give in certain circumstances. Grants are available from the Government under section 8 of the Railways Act 1974 for consignors towards the capital cost of the necessary facilities, where without grant the proper decision would be to use road.