Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240 - 249)




  240. Let us ask Ms Clarke. Can you tell us the actual cost of the upgrade required for the rail connection to Dibden Bay and compare that with the cost of the upgrading required to increase rail freight capacity in other ports?
  (Ms Clarke) A number of numbers have been put into the public domain. The emerging cost—

  241. Do you think you could narrow it down a bit more than that?
  (Ms Clarke) I will do, madam Chairman. Thank you, John, who has just written the exact number.

  242. I am glad you came, Mr Chapman.
  (Ms Clarke) The number we have for the specified project, which is a large project for Dibden Bay to the west coast, is £928 million at the moment.

Andrew Bennett

  243. And how much of that is Associated British Ports, I think it is who is doing the development, offering to pay?
  (Ms Clarke) At the moment we do not have an offer. We would not be expecting port companies to pay huge amounts of money because they are out of proportion to the benefits.


  244. We understand that, but who should specifically improve the road and the rail network, particularly in relation to ports?
  (Ms Clarke) Those who benefit and can be seen to benefit.

  245. But not too much of a contribution?
  (Ms Clarke) In proportion to the benefits.

  246. In proportion. And how, pray, would we estimate that?
  (Ms Clarke) I think it would have to be a commercial negotiation for the ports to port authorities or possibly some of the users of the ports to assess how much they want the rail connection, the rail capacity and the rail improvements.

  247. But so far, although you have been having talks with all these different people, you have not had an offer?
  (Ms Clarke) We have not had an offer. Some of them are more receptive than others and, to be fair, those who are more receptive can more readily identify specific benefits to them.

  248. Are the port owners willing to spend money on their infrastructure?
  (Ms Clarke) I think they find it more acceptable when looking at their own port infrastructure and the rail elements of that or in the locality than further afield and we certainly understand that. Of course, society, as Mr Welsh put it, is a beneficiary as well and that is what we are there to reflect.

  249. Well, as a previous Prime Minister said, there is no such thing as society.
  (Ms Clarke) We would expect to pay the lion's share of the costs on the main trunk routes.

  Chairman: Yes, that had rather crossed our minds. Thank you very much. You have all been very helpful. We are very grateful to you.

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