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Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the feasibility and cost of a maglev rail system. (200629)

In the preparation of the 2007 rail White Paper, “Delivering a Sustainable Railway”, the Department for Transport commissioned a report into maglev systems. This report reviewed a number of features of maglev systems including safety, environmental, and engineering feasibility. A copy of this report is available on the Department’s website at:

The only operational maglev in the world had costs three times higher than equivalent high speed lines.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the division of responsibilities is between (a) her Department and (b) Network Rail on (i) the safeguarding of lines for possible future expansion of the network, (ii) the building of new lines, (iii) the collection of data relating to passenger numbers before and after new lines have been opened and (iv) decisions relating to the electrification of existing lines; and if she will make a statement. (201267)

Regional and local planning authorities are responsible for the safeguarding of alignments via spatial plans. The Secretary of State for Transport may issue safeguarding Directions under the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995. The Office of Rail Regulation regulates the disposal of land owned by Network Rail.

Towards a Sustainable Transport System describes a new, multi-modal approach to transport planning. Network Rail, working with the rail industry, will provide a view on the ways in which the railway can contribute most effectively to the Secretary of State's wider transport objectives for the period from 2014. This may include new lines and electrification proposals.

Passenger demand is forecast by the sponsor of a scheme and train operators collect data on subsequent patronage.