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Rail Services

Volume 174: debated on Thursday 14 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider making grants to the British Rail Board towards the reopening of rail lines or the reinstatement of rail services where such services will relieve traffic congestion or enhance travel opportunities to the benefit of the community.

Grants may be made under section 56 of the Transport Act 1968 towards the cost of investments which are not financially viable but which can be justified on wider social and economic grounds. The availability of such grants to British Rail was noted by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in his letter of 19 December 1989 to the chairman of the British Rail reported in the Official Report on 19 December, at columns 227–32.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the extent to which bus substitution provides an acceptable alternative to existing rail services; and if he will make a statement.

It is for British Rail to make any such assessment in the first instance in the light of the objectives set by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in his letter of 19 December 1989 to the chairman of the British Railways Board.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider increasing the public service obligation grant to British Rail in respect of the Provincial Services Network in line with inflation each year; and what account he takes of the need to reduce overcrowding and congestion and increase reliability of services when considering increases to the public service obligation grant.

The size of the grant needs to reflect progress made by British Rail in increasing revenue and reducing costs. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has set quality targets for reliability, punctuality and load factors, which were taken into account when the current financial targets were set in his letter of 19 December 1989 to the chairman of the board.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish guidelines to Network SouthEast and the Provincial Services Network of British Rail concerning the level of services supported by public services obligation grant he expects them to provide.

The British Railways Board was directed on 30 March 1988 to provide a public service generally comparable with that provided at the date the direction was made. The direction is published each year in the board's annual report and accounts. Quality of service standards were among the objectives set by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in his letter of 19 December 1989 to the chairman of the board.