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Loss-Making Passenger Services (Grants)

Volume 773: debated on Friday 15 November 1968

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asked the Minister of Transport when he will announce details of loss-making passenger services submitted to him by British Railways for social grants under the Transport Act, 1968, together with his decisions, in view of the commencement of the new British Railways financial régime on 1st January, 1969.

I have considered applications by the British Railways Board for grants under Section 39 of the Transport Act, 1968 in respect of a large number of such services. I have given very considerable weight to social questions and to the needs of regional development and have consulted, as appropriate, the Regional Economic Planning Councils, the Scottish Economic Planning Council, the Welsh Council and the Area Transport Users Consultative Committees.I have now decided to pay grant as from 1st January for the following 135 services in addition to all those London commuter services for which the Board has applied for grant and which are not mentioned elsewhere in this statement.

Eastern Region of British Railways

  • King's Cross—Peterborough/Grantham (local service).
  • Norwich—Yarmouth (via Acle and Reedham).
  • Norwich—Lowestoft.
  • Ipswich—Lowestoft.
  • Cambridge—Norwich.
  • Ipswich—Cambridge.
  • Ipswich—Colchester (local service).
  • Manningtree—Harwich.
  • Witham—Braintree.
  • Wickford—Southminster.
  • Newcastle—Alnmouth—Berwick—Edinburgh (local service).
  • Newcastle—Sunderland—Middlesbrough.
  • Newcastle—South Shields.
  • North Tyneside services (including Riverside loop).
  • Newcastle—Hexham—Carlisle.
  • Haltwhistle—Alston.
  • Darlington/Northallerton—Hartlepool.
  • Darlington—Saltburn.
  • Darlington—Bishop Auckland.
  • Middlesbrough—Whitby.
  • York—Scarborough.
  • York—Selby—Doncaster/Hull (local service).
  • York—Harrogate.
  • Leeds—Harrogate.
  • Leeds—Bradford.
  • Huddersfield—Clayton West/Penistone.
  • Huddersfield—Wakefield.
  • Leeds—Goole.
  • Hull—Doncaster.
  • Sheffield—Doncaster.
  • Sheffield—Chesterfield (local service).
  • Doncaster—Cleethorpes.
  • Clecthorpes—Newark.
  • Retford—Cleethorpes.
  • Sheffield—Retford.
  • Retford—Lincoln.
  • Lincoln—Nottingham.
  • Grantham—Nottingham.
  • Lincoln/Grantham—Boston.

London Midland Region of British Railways

  • Birmingham—Redditch.
  • Birmingham—Lichfield.
  • Birmingham—Stourbridge/Stourbridge Town—Kidderminster.
  • Birmingham—Leamington Spa.
  • Birmingham (New Street)—Wolverhampton (High level).
  • Birmingham—Leicester—Nottingham.
  • Birmingham—Walsall (via Aston).
  • Birmingham—Walsal (via Soho).
  • Birmingham—Derby (local service).
  • Birmingham—Lapworth/Leamington Spa—Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • Stafford—Birmingham.
  • Rugby/Coventry—Birmingham.
  • Rugby—Nuneaton—Stafford.
  • Wolverhampton—Shrewsbury—Chester.
  • Shrewsbury—Aberystwyth.
  • Llandudno—Blaenau Ffestiniog.
  • Leicester—Peterborough.
  • Derby—Manchester.
  • Derby—Nottingham.
  • Derby—Matlock.
  • Crewe—Chester (local service).
  • Crewe—Derby.
  • Liverpool—Rock Ferry.
  • Liverpool—New Brighton.
  • Liverpool—West Kirby.
  • Liverpool—Ormskirk.
  • Liverpool—Southport.
  • Liverpool—Runcorn—Crewe.
  • Rock Ferry—Helsby/Chester.
  • Runcorn—Helsby—Chester.
  • Liverpool—Warrington—Manchester.
  • Liverpool—Patricroft—Manchester.
  • Manchester—Colne (via Blackburn).
  • Manchester—Altrincham.
  • Manchester—Northwich—Chester.
  • Manchester—Bury.
  • Manchester—Oldham—Rochdale.
  • Manchester—Preston—Blackpool.
  • Manchester—Buxton.
  • Manchester—Warrington—Chester (General).
  • Manchester—Stockport—Crewe.

  • Manchester—Styal—Crewe.
  • Manchester—Stafford (via Stoke).
  • Manchester—Wigan—Southport (via Bolton and Atherton).
  • Manchester—Chinley—Sheffield (Midland).
  • Manchester—Romiley—New Mills.
  • Stockport—Stalybridge.
  • New Mills—Sheffield.
  • Bury—Rawtenstall.
  • Preston—Blackpool.
  • Preston—Windermere.
  • Blackpool—Blackburn—Colne.
  • Lancaster—Morecambe.
  • Barrow—Whitehaven.
  • Whitehaven—Carlisle.

Scottish Region of British Railways

  • Glasgow North Suburban Electric Service.
  • Glasgow South Suburban Electric Service.
  • Springburn—Cumbernauld.
  • Glasgow—Lanark.
  • Glasgow—Hamilton.
  • Glasgow—Barrhead.
  • Glasgow—Paisley—Kilmacolm.
  • Glasgow—East Kilbride.
  • Glasgow—Edinburgh (via Shotts).
  • Glasgow—Ayr.
  • Dairy/Kilwinning—Largs.
  • Ayr—Stranraer.
  • Glasgow—Oban.
  • Glasgow—Fort William.
  • Fort William—Mallaig.
  • Glasgow—Dundee.
  • Glasgow—Perth—Inverness.
  • Edinburgh—Dundee—Arbroath (via Dunfermline).
  • Edinburgh—Dundee—Arbroath (via Kirkcaldy).
  • Montrose—Dundee—Perth (local service).
  • Aberdeen—Inverness.
  • Inverness—Kyle of Lochalsh.
  • Inverness—Wick/Thurso.

Southern Region of British Railways

  • Ore—Brighton.
  • Brighton—Portsmouth.
  • Portsmouth—Fareham—Eastleigh/South-hampton—Salisbury.
  • Ryde—Shanklin.

Western Region of British Railways

  • Paddington—Bedwyn (local service).
  • Oxford—Worcester.
  • Bristol—Western-super-Mare—Taunton (local service).
  • Cardiff—Merthyr.
  • Cardiff—Rhymney.
  • Cardiff—Penarth.
  • Cardiff—Coryton.
  • Barry Island—Treherbert.
  • Swansea—Carmarthen—Milford Haven (local service).
  • Maiden Newton—Bridport.
  • Plymouth—Gunnislake.
  • Exeter—Exmouth.
  • Liskeard—Looe.
  • St. Erth—St. Ives.

I have also decided to grant-aid two services which, it seems to me, could be re-routed. These are as follows:—

(a) EdinburghPerth

I am satisfied of the need for a railway passenger service between these two points, but consider that the service, which at present runs via Kinross, would give better value for money if it were diverted via Stirling. British Railways agree that this would be feasible, and I understand that they intend shortly to publish a closure proposal for the section of route between Cowdenbeath and Hilton Junction including Kinross Station.

(b) LondonHigh WycombeAylesbury

I am satisfied that this service should be grant-aided but consider that it would represent better value for money if it were diverted from its present London terminus of Marylebone to Paddington, where passengers would have a wider choice of interchange facilities. This diversion would entail the closure of the section of route between Neasden Junction and Northolt Junction including four stations—Wembley Hill, Sudbury and Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill (Harrow) and Northolt Park.

I shall not, of course, be able to take a final decision as to the future of these two services until all the statutory closure procedures have been completed; in the meantime they will continue to run in their present form.

British Railways are also applying for grant in respect of the following 56 services and although examination of these applications is not yet complete I expect to be able to grant-aid them. The services are:—

Eastern Region of British Railways

  • Cambridge—Peterborough.
  • Cambridge—King's Lynn.
  • East Anglia—Midlands/North England.
  • Colchester—Clacton/Walton (local service).
  • Leeds—York.
  • York—Newcastle (local service).
  • Newcastle—Liverpool.
  • Bradford—Manchester.
  • Bradford—Black pool.
  • Leeds—Huddersfield.
  • Leeds—Skipton—Morecambe.
  • Leeds—Barnsley—Sheffield.
  • Leeds—Rotherham—Sheffield.
  • Leeds—Doncaster.
  • Sheffield—York (local service).
  • Leeds—Liverpool.
  • Leeds—Hull.
  • Ipswich—Felixstowe.

London Midland Region of British Railways

  • Euston—Northampton—Birmingham.
  • Birmingham—Kidderminster—Worcester.
  • Birmingham (Snow Hill)—Langley Green.
  • Birmingham (Snow Hill)—Wolverhampton (Low Level).
  • Crewe—Shrewsbury.
  • Chester—Llandudno—Holyhead.
  • Machynlleth—Pwllheli.
  • Liverpool—St. Helens—Wigan.
  • Liverpool—Fazakerley—Wigan—Bolton.
  • Manchester—Hadfield/Glossop.
  • Leeds—Carlisle—Scotland.
  • Preston—Barrow.
  • Keswick—Carlisle.

Scottish Region of British Railways

  • Glasgow—Stirling—Dunblane (local service).
  • Glasgow—Fife.
  • Edinburgh—Kirkcaldy.
  • Edinburgh—Dunfermline—Cardenden.
  • Edinburgh—Falkirk—Stirling—Dunblane (local service).
  • Edinburgh—Glasgow via Falkirk (Grahamston).
  • Glasgow—Gourock—Wemyss Bay.
  • Euston—Stranraer.
  • Carlisle—Dumfries—Glasgow (local service).

Southern Region of British Railways

  • Reading—Basingstoke—Salisbury.
  • Bournemouth—Weymouth.

Western Region of British Railways.

  • Paddington—Reading—Didcot—Oxford.
  • Oxford—Leamington.
  • Worcester—Hereford.
  • Birmingham—Worcester (via Bromsgrove).
  • Hereford—Shrewsbury.
  • Bristol—Westbury—Salisbury.
  • Bristol—Westbury—Weymouth
  • Bristol—Worcester (local).
  • Bristol—Newport (local).
  • Salisbury—Exeter.
  • Exeter—Barnstable.
  • Plymouth—Saltash—Liskeard.
  • Truro—Falmouth.
  • Par—Newquay.

Early in 1969 I intend to announce in respect of each service the length of the period for which I shall undertake to pay grant, and the amount of the grant itself. I am not yet able to do this because certain adjustments have yet to be made before the figures can be finalised. Initially the proportion of short term grants appears likely to be fairly high partly because it has not been possible for me to examine all the services thoroughly, partly because of the impending structural changes in arrangements for passenger transport in the West Midlands, Mersey-side, South East Lancashire/North East Cheshire and Tyneside, and partly because of proposed changes in the organisation of public transport in London.

I have reached the tentative conclusion that the following 10 services should not be grant-aided. These services, and the approximate amount of grant which would be required annually if they were to continue in the long term, are as follows:—

  • Bridgend—Treherbert (£150,000).
  • Banger—Caernarvon (£60,000).
  • Newport—Gloucester (local trains only)(£100,000)
  • Colchester—Sudbury (Suffolk) (£90,000).
  • High Wycombe—Bourne End (£60,000).
  • Colne—Skipton (£110,000).
  • Kidderminster—Hartlebury—Bewdley (£55,000).
  • Cambridge—St. Ives (£120,000).
  • Exeter—Okehampton (£150,000).
  • Kirkham—Fleetwood (£120,000).

In all the above cases the Railways Board will be free to publish proposals for the withdrawal of the service, and I understand that, in order to qualify for a transitional grant under Section 39 (4) of the Transport Act, 1968, they intend to publish these proposals in the very near future. In all these cases I shall not be able to take a final decision until all the statutory procedures involved in closures have been followed. Meanwhile, of course, the services will continue to run as at present.

I have also decided that I cannot give grant for the following two services, consisting only of local trains between the two terminal points:—

  • Doncaster—Retford (£15,000).
  • Newport—Hereford (£75,000).

In both these cases, the routes and stations concerned are served by other trains, so that British Railways are free to withdraw the trains which they had put forward for grant without the necessity for any statutory procedures.

All services which are the subject of unresolved closure proposals on 1st January, 1969 will be grant-aided for the time being under the transitional powers contained in Section 39 (4) of the Act. These will include the following three services in respect of which I understand British Railways intend to publish closure proposals before the end of the year:—

  • Bolton—Bury—Rochdale.
  • Skipton—Carlisle (stopping trains only).
  • Romford—Upminster.

Total expenditure on all these grants is likely to be at an annual rate of £62 million initially. Over one third of this total will be in respect of services in or to Development Areas.

British Railways have been under extremely heavy pressure in preparing these grant applications, and in some cases I have not been able to consider the services in sufficient detail to take long term decisions. I intend to review these as soon as possible and may decide that some which I am proposing to grant-aid at the present level of service should be grant-aided at a lower level. In other cases I may reach the provisional view that the service does not, after all, represent value for money and may convey this view to British Railways. In these circumstances, they would be free to publish a closure proposal, which would enable the hardship involved in withdrawal of the service, and the feasibility of provision of alternative services, to be examined in greater detail.