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Mr. Atkins : Our programme provides for award of the design commission later this year and announcement of a preferred route in 1993. Progress after that will depend on the outcome of the statutory procedures, including a public inquiry if one proves necessary.
Mr. Portillo : Since 1988 the main line from Southampton to Waterloo has been served by a fleet of modern class 422 Wessex electrics which cost £46 million. Network SouthEast has carried out numerous station improvements in the Southampton area often with funding contributions from local authorities. Eastleigh station was recently rebuilt at a cost of £1.8 million. The £16 million Portsmouth-Southampton electrification scheme is due for completion in May.
Mr. Portillo : The public service obligation grant is not based on an allocation between routes, and it is not possible to specify the sums paid in respect of services on the Sheffield-St. Pancras midland line. No grant has been paid for Inter-City services on any line since April 1988.
Column 101Mr. McLoughlin : The Government have launched various initiatives through Eurocontrol and the European civil aviation conference to promote integration of European air traffic control systems. I am glad that good progress is being made.
Mr. McLoughlin : The Civil Aviation Authority is embarking on an enhanced programme for training air traffic controller cadets and is aiming to increase its recruitment from 80 in 1988 to 240 by 1991.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what length of training is now required before full qualification as an air traffic controller and what was the period of training undertaken before qualification in 1980.
Mr. McLoughlin : A simple comparison between the length of training now and the length of training in 1980 is not possible. I am therefore asking the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority to reply to the hon. Member with detailed information.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of persons out of the last intake commencing training as air traffic controllers, whose training has now been completed successfully completed their training course and qualified as air traffic controllers.
Mr. McLoughlin : The last intake which completed its training to qualify as air traffic controllers had 13 successful members out of 18 who commenced ; of the five who were unsuccessful, three had their training terminated due to failure and two resigned.
23. Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to increase freight transport by the waterways to ease the demand by heavy goods transport on the roads ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Atkins : A number of measures are being prepared, some for imminent implementation. Junction improvements and widening of the M1 in Leicestershire were announced in the White Paper "Roads for Prosperity" in May 1989. In the meantime, improvements to assist traffic flow at junctions 21 and 24 are planned for this year.
31. Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has discussed with British Rail its proposed levels of freight and passenger service between the north-west and the prospective Channel tunnel.
Mr. Portillo : Ministers had the chance to see a presentation from British Rail very shortly before it published its proposals for passenger and freight services in its section 40 plan on 14 December.
38. Sir John Hunt : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what further consideration he has given to the proposals of the Ove Arup partnership with regard to the route of the Channel tunnel rail links ; and if he will make a statement.
51. Mr. Jacques Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the current situation regarding British Rail's plans for a high-speed rail link to the Channel tunnel.
Mr. Portillo : The Channel tunnel is a private sector project, to be constructed and operated in accordance with the Channel fixed link treaty, the Channel Tunnel Act and the concession agreement between the United Kingdom and French Governments and Eurotunnel. Eurotunnel and TML, the construction group, have recently reaffirmed 15 June 1993 as the target date for completion. British Rail announced in December its plans for international rail services for the United Kingdom.
Mr. Portillo : Privatisation of all 72 subsidiaries of the National Bus Company was completed in April 1988. Eight local authority bus companies have also been privatised and other sales are in the pipeline. Privatisation of the Scottish Bus Group is to begin shortly. I intend that privatisation should also occur in London.
Mr. Atkins : My Department studies a wide range of measures aimed at easing congestion in London, and these have included a preliminary study of the possible implications of introducing electronic road pricing in London.
Mr. McLoughlin : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will decide whether to order a formal investigation into the Marchioness accident when he has received the report from the chief inspector of marine accidents.
40. Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met the Association of Chief Police Officers to discuss matters within his responsibilities ; and what subjects were discussed.
Mr. Atkins : The Department has regular contacts with ACPO and with individual chief constables. These discussions cover all aspects of road, vehicle and driver safety. I met the chairman of the ACPO traffic committee on 8 November for a general discussion on all these matters.
Mr. Atkins : Penalty charges are payable under lane rental contracts for late completion of major maintenance works. In 1988-89 there were 12 lane rental contracts and, while no penalty charges were incurred by contractors, an estimated £6 million in delay costs to road users were saved when compared with doing the work under conventional contracts, which would have taken longer.
Mr. Atkins : The steps that we are taking to reduce road casualties are outlined in the reply to the hon. Member on 9 January columns 584-85 . These are set out more fully in the second annual progress report "Road Casualty Reduction", a copy of which is in the Library.
Column 105Mr. McLoughlin : As the Marine is a Bahamian registered vessel, the investigation into its loss is being conducted by the Bahamian authorities. However, as all the six crewmen were British, the marine accident investigation branch has asked for, and been promised, a copy of the Bahamian administration's report.
48. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many container ship routes in Britain operated by Railfreight use non-British ships and crews ; and if he will make a statement on the usage of local labour on such routes.
Mr. McLoughlin : Railfreight does not operate any ships. I understand that it buys container space from operators on three routes from United Kingdom ports, all using non-British vessels and crew. The routes are : Ellesmere Port to Belfast, Holyhead to Dublin, and Harwich to Zeebrugge. The choice of operators is a matter for British Rail's commercial judgment. Crewing decisions are matters for the operators, subject to any requirements of the flag state or restrictions in charter agreements.
Over the past decade more than £300 million of capital expenditure has been facilitated, through special borrowing approvals for the development of local authority airports. I announced on 9 January that special borrowing approvals totalling £59 million will be available for 1990- 91, facilitating investment which the airports concerned estimate could total some £117 million in that year. We also very much welcome the contribution to the development of local authority airports which the private sector already makes through direct investment and joint venture schemes ; and we look to the airports concerned and their local authority owners to take full account of the opportunities for private sector involvement as they formulate their plans for further expansion.
We are continuing to pursue liberalisation policies, both in the European Community and in bilateral negotiations, which increase further the scope for services from our regional airports.
Mr. McLoughlin : We believe that there are advantages in the main commercial trust ports being transformed into companies. So far we have not been able to make room ourselves for the legislation needed to bring about such a change. Meanwhile the Clyde and the Tees and Hartlepool port authorities have promoted their own private measures.
Mr. Atkins : The proposals for an A1/M1 link road in south Yorkshire concern county roads which are the responsibility of the local highway authorities, Barnsley and Doncaster metropolitan district councils. Decisions on timing are for the councils, but I understand that construction work has not yet commenced.
Mr. McLoughlin : Since 15 December, when the Lord Advocate announced his decision to set preparations in hand for a fatal accident inquiry, representations have been made by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) and representatives of relatives of those who died in the disaster.
Mr. Atkins : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Fearn) on 2 February. My right hon. Friend will make a further statement on the environmental treatment of trunk road schemes when the roads report is published shortly.
Column 107Mr. Atkins : Detailed Government funding is for only one year at a time and depends on completion of statutory and other procedures, although there are forward programmes. The Department's expanded trunk road and motorway programme includes a number of important schemes in Essex, notably widening of M25 and the new motorway from the M25 to Chelmsford. The major A127 Rayleigh Weir junction improvement is already under way.
For local roads Essex county council will in 1990-91 receive transport supplementary grant of £6.686 million towards capital expenditure, including work on the A120 Dovercourt bypass stage 2 and the A414 Caves lane improvement. This represents an increase of over 30 per cent. compared with 1989-90.
Mr. Atkins : Since their introduction in 1984 lane rental contracts on motorways in England have saved over 2,000 days of lane closures compared with estimates of the length of time the works would have taken under conventional contracts.