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Volume 449: debated on Monday 24 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which railway lines in England and Wales are under consideration for reopening; and what his policy is on the reopening of railway lines. (85533)

In July next year we will publish our High Level Output Specification. This will set out the railway outputs the Government wish to buy in terms of capacity, safety and reliability and the funding to support this for the next five years. It is for the industry to determine what inputs are needed to deliver this.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what solutions he has identified to overcrowding on the railways. (82505)

We are currently seeing huge growth in the railways, with more than a billion passengers carried last year, and this is set to continue. To help meet this challenge we are investing record amounts in the network.

Work is being undertaken to improve timetabling, infrastructure maintenance and renewals and other factors that can impact on reliable delivery of train services, which in turn will impact on crowding levels. We are also considering different measures to increase the capacity of the network, from train layout and length, turnaround times and infrastructure improvements. Major investment programmes such as the west coast main line modernisation project have already seen capacity improvements.

It is for the train operating companies to take decisions about the deployment of rolling stock. We will continue to review train counts and train plans to assess whether resources are being deployed effectively.