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2 Jul 2001 : Column: 12W
Mr. Spellar: The Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT) was established in July 1999 to provide independent advice on the implementation of integrated transport policy. Its remit was set out in the Integrated Transport White Paper.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps are being taken by his Department to promote the greater use of the railways for freight. 
Mr. Spellar: Our policy is to help establish an integrated, sustainable freight distribution system to support economic growth and to bring social and environmental benefits. We set out our long-term strategy in the 10-Year Transport Plan in July last year. We have established the Strategic Rail Authority with a duty to promote rail freight. The SRA set out its Strategic Agenda, including its plans for freight, earlier this year and is now consulting the industry on its detailed Freight Strategy.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress has been made in the contract negotiations for the National Air Traffic Services public-private partnership. 
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps he is taking to implement the recommendations of the Uff-Cullen inquiry into technical solutions to the problem of railway signals passed at danger. 
Mr. Spellar: The Government welcomed the publication on 29 March of the Joint Inquiry Report by Lord Cullen and Professor Uff into train protection systems and reaffirmed the Deputy Prime Minister's undertaking to Parliament on 20 July 2000, Official Report, columns 54952, that the measures arising from the report will be brought within the 10-Year Plan for Transport.
The report endorsed the Government's existing policy to install the Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) across the network by the end of 2003, and set out a programme for the new European Train Control System (ETCS) on high-speed and other main lines.
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Successful negotiation between the train operators and the trade unions avoided strike action in all but one of the 25 train operating companies on 25 June. We would greatly regret any possible further industrial action on the railway which would cause yet more inconvenience to passengers.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects the Strategic Rail Authority to (a) begin the next stage of the competition for the new Wales and Borders franchise and (b) recommence the competition for the Central Trains franchise. 
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many additional employees have been recruited by the Strategic Rail Authority during the past year. 
The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) was set up on 1 February 2001 under the provisions of the Transport Act 2000 , with 330 staff. This included 259 from the sSRA and, to cover additional functions transferred on that date, 70 from the Office of the Rail Regulator (including those working for Rail Passengers Committees) and one from the then Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The SRA also took responsibility for the 2,297 British Transport Police.
Mr. Spellar: At the end of 1999 Eurotunnel sent to the Governments of France and the UK, through the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission, a package relating to two tunnel projects, one road the other rail. Eurotunnel submitted that package in order to discharge an undertaking in the Concession Agreement to submit, before 2000, a proposal for a drive through link.
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Mr. Spellar: The Multi-Modal Studies are looking for solutions to some of the most severe and urgent problems on our transport network. They exemplify our integrated approach to transport and will be central to the delivery of the 10-Year-Plan.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will ensure that the conclusions of the multi-modal study into the transport corridor between the midlands and Manchester are published in time to be taken into account in the formulation of the new regional planning guidance for the west midlands. 
Mr. Jamieson: The final study report and the Steering Group recommendations will be formally submitted to the West Midlands Regional Planning Body and the North West Regional Assembly in autumn 2001. Interim outputs from the study will be available this August to inform the development of the draft West Midlands Regional Planning Guidance due for publication in autumn 2001.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will respond to the recommendations of Lord Cullen's inquiry into the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster. 
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Department is taking to encourage bus companies in the south-east of England to offer commuter services to London; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Keeble: The 10-Year Transport Plan recognises that coach services have a valuable role in expanding transport options including for commuting journeys into major cities. Coach services will benefit from increased investment in the strategic road network, including measures to tackle bottlenecks and improve network management.
The public consultation draft of the Mayor of London's Transport Strategy said that additional commuter and scheduled express coach services on particular routes could fulfil a valuable role in supplementing rail capacity. It said that Transport for London would work with coach operators to review opportunities for extending the role of commuter coaches, taking account of traffic and parking issues. I understand that the Mayor will publish his final Transport Strategy shortly.
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