From the 'Suffolk Free Press' of Thursday 18 April 1963


Marples gives M.P.s a pledge

A guarantee that adequate alternative services will replace rail services withdrawn in East Anglia, has been given by the Minister of Transport, Mr Ernest Marples.

He stated this in a reply to a letter from five East Anglian Conservative M.P.s. The three local members, Mr John Hare, Mr R. A. Butler and Mr W. Aitken were not among them.

Mr Marples said he had wide powers to reject recommendations for passenger closures made by the Railways Board.


He told M.P.s: "I can refuse consent to a closure proposal, in which case the Board has to go on running the railway service.

"I can also attach conditions to my consent. Thus, if I thought the hardship warranted it, I could require the provision of additional alternative services".

The members had told the Minister that: "Closure without adequate means of transport would result in the impoverishment of the whole area".

They asked him not to close railways until the roads had been modernised.

Mr Marples also says in his reply: "I appreciate your concern that closures should not take place without consideration of the question of alternative facilities. The government recognise this. In the Transport Act, 1962, they have, in fact, made special provision for this when passenger closures are proposed.

"Under Section 56, when the Railways Board wish to proceed with any proposals to withdraw all passenger services from any line or station, they must give at least six weeks notice. The notice must be published in two successive weeks in two local newspapers. The Board will also put notices on the station affected and send copies to the local authorities. Once notice has been given, users may lodge objections with the Area Transport Users Consultative Committee", the Minister explains.


"The committee for your area is the Committee for East Anglia", he goes on, "When they receive an objection to a passenger closure proposal, they must inform me. The closure cannot then take place until the committee have reported to me on hardship and I have given my consent.

"The act provides that the committee shall consider the objections from users and that in their report to me they can make proposals for alleviating hardship. Before deciding whether to give my consent, I shall consider their report and, in particular, what they have to say about alternative services. I shall also take into account any other factors. Where relevant one of these will be the adequacy of the roads in the area".

Mr Marples says that the machinery was there in the Transport Act for people to make representations about passenger proposals as and when the Board wished to proceed with them.

"The question of adequacy of alternative services in the area will be fully examined both by the committee and by me, whenever a closure proposal is opposed".

"If users make use of the machinery under Section 56 for lodging objection, the transport needs of the area should become apparent. If there is any evidence of new development taking place in the area which would increase the demand for transport, I will take this into account in reaching my decision", he concludes.