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Safer Stations Initiative

Mr. Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the funding, under the Safer Stations Initiative, the Government have made available for passenger safety improvements to (a) Queenstown Road Station, (b) Battersea Park Station, (c) Wandsworth Town Station, (d) Balham Station and (e) Clapham South Station. [151154]

Mr. Hill: The Safer Stations Initiative is led by the London borough of Wandsworth. It is aimed at improving the safety, accessibility and environmental quality of railway stations in the borough, in partnership with service providers, passenger representatives and the police. The initiative has received no direct funding from central Government.

Departmental Policies (Battersea)

Mr. Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will set out the effects on Battersea constituency of his Department's transport policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [151155]

Mr. Hill: Specific information about the effects on Battersea constituency is not available. However, since April 1997 my Department has allocated £6.48 million of resources for transport initiatives and schemes to the London borough of Wandsworth under the Local Transport Settlement.

Responsibility for allocations for the financial year beginning April 2001 onwards now belongs to Transport for London.

The London borough of Wandsworth has also benefited from Local Transport Settlement allocations to a number of London-wide initiatives, and to two sub-regional partnerships, SWELTRAC and Wandle Valley. Since April 1997 the following amounts have been allocated:

£ million
London Cycle Network20.5
London Bus Priority Network47.0
Wandle Valley1.0
Green Areas Initiative0.6
Bridge Strengthening64.9

In addition, as part of the Red Route programme a number of road schemes have been carried out in the constituency, including junction improvements, crossings and signing.The franchises for national rail services in the area are currently being replaced with a view to providing a much improved service when the competitions are complete.

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East Coast Main Line

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the criteria which are to be used in deciding the award of the East Coast main line franchise and their order of priority and relative weighting. [151553]

Mr. Hill: In considering proposals for franchise replacement the Instructions and Guidance given to the Chief Executive of the Strategic Rail Authority by the Deputy Prime Minister ask him to give due weight to performance, customer services, innovation, investment and efficiency, the extent to which passengers will be given a greater voice in the level and standard of services and affordability and value for money for the taxpayer. The Authority provides the actual evaluation criteria to prequalified parties for each replacement franchise.

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when his Department expects to receive the Strategic Rail Authority's recommendations concerning the awarding of the East Coast main line rail franchise; and what are the reasons for the delay announced on 14 February. [151552]

Mr. Hill: On 14 February the Strategic Rail Authority announced a pause in the franchise replacement process for the Inter City East Coast replacement franchise as a result of increased cost estimates for upgrading the East Coast main line provided by Railtrack.

Prior to that date, the Secretary of State was considering a request from the SRA for a direction, under section 26 of the Railways Act 1993, which would allow it to choose a preferred bidder for this replacement franchise. The SRA has now asked the Secretary of State to delay further consideration of whether to grant such a direction until it has discussed the issue of cost estimates with Railtrack and taken a view on any implications for the replacement process.

Water Meters

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 29 January 2001, Official Report, column 21W, on water meters, if he will publish Ofwat's letter to water companies on water meters and the responses received. [150661]

Mr. Robert Ainsworth [holding answer 26 February 2001]: I understand from the Director General of Water Services that the letters referred to were not only about metering but dealt with a wide range of issues in companies' charges schemes. Some of this information concerning companies' planning, costs and revenues was discussed in confidence and is commercially sensitive. It would be inappropriate, therefore, to publish the correspondence.

However I have asked the Director General to write to the hon. Member to explain the action taken by Ofwat and he will do so very shortly. A copy of this letter will be placed on public deposit in the Ofwat library.

Liquid Petroleum Gas

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what steps

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the Government are taking to encourage car manufacturers to make and sell cars that run on liquid petroleum gas; [151263]

Mr. Hill: The Government have introduced a range of measures to promote the wider use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The Powershift programme, funded by my Department and administered by the Energy Saving Trust, provides grants towards the additional cost of vehicles fuelled by LPG. There is a low rate of duty on LPG and other road gas fuels--around 7.5p per litre, compared to 48.82p per litre for premium unleaded petrol and 48.82p per litre for ultra low sulphur diesel. From 1 March 2001, new LPG cars will benefit from a lower rate, under the new Vehicle Excise Duty system.

The number of LPG refuelling points is growing rapidly. There were around 100 in 1997. There are now around 660 sites in the UK and this number is expected to rise to over 1,000 by the end of this year, thanks to investment from the major fuel suppliers. Many of these new facilities will be on petrol station forecourts. The Government's revised transport planning guidance note (PPG13) will further encourage local authorities to view planning applications for refuelling facilities for cleaner fuels more favourably. This is expected to be published later this year.

My Department's Ministers and officials have met a range of vehicle manufacturers to discuss the development of the gas vehicle market. The Energy Saving Trust is also in close touch with vehicle manufacturers, encouraging them to introduce production line gas vehicles. I am encouraged to know that several vehicle manufacturers are considering doing so.

Grants under the Powershift programme focus on new cars (but also those of up to one year old), encouraging manufacturers to develop high quality production line gas vehicles, so as to reduce the cost and lead to the wider use of gas fuelled vehicles. Also, the older a vehicle is, the harder is it to guarantee that a gas conversion will lead to emission reductions.

Public Service Vehicles

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to amend the Public Service Vehicles (Condition of Fitness, Equipment, Use and Certification) Regulation 1981 (No. 257), regulations 28(1)(d)(ii) and 28(1)(f) following the judgment made at Colchester county court on 5 February against Crusader Holidays of Clacton- on-Sea (claim C0005266). [151157]

Mr. Hill: I have no plans to amend the Public Service Vehicles (Conditions of Fitness, Equipment. Use and Certification) Regulations 1981 as a result of the judgment made at Colchester county court of 5 February. The standards for seat spacing are the minimum

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requirements that reflect the varied types of operation of buses and coaches. There is nothing to prevent an operator from having a greater space for the seats than that which is set out in the regulations if they so wish.

Jubilee Line Extension

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to seek compensation from the contractors responsible for construction work on the Jubilee Line extension. [151301]

Mr. Hill: This is a matter for London Underground Limited (LUL), who let the contracts for Jubilee Line Extension construction. I understand that the majority of Jubilee Line Extension contracts included liquidated damages clauses. There is a rigorous final accounting process during which these clauses are reviewed against the performance of individual contractors to determine whether or not damages apply. LUL manages this process, supported where necessary by high quality legal and technical advisers. If a contractor is deemed to be liable for any part of the total time and cost overrun this is taken into account in final settlement of the relevant contract. For reasons of commercial confidentiality it would not be appropriate to comment on any individual case.

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