Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if his Department will make a financial contribution towards the cost of the planned reconstruction of Greenhithe rail station; and if he will make a statement. 
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brought to his attention in the last three months; for how long investigations have been conducted; what action has been taken in response; and what external auditors or other advisers will be appointed to investigate. 
Dr. Whitehead: I am aware of five investigations which have commenced in the last three months, all of which are on-going. All are being led by appropriately qualified staff in the Department, agency or non- departmental public body concerned. Where necessary, the in-house resource will be supplemented by expert advice.
It is too soon to say what the outcomes will be. In each case the evidence will be weighed carefully and, where appropriate, further action, which may include reference to the police, will be initiated.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will provide an updated version of Table A3 from the 10-year transport plan of July 2000 that accounts for changes which have taken place between its publication and the present time. 
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions on what date his Department allocated £290 million of unused rail provision in 200001 to the 10-Year Transport Plan. 
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions for what reason rail provision budgeted for use in 200001 was not allocated to the 10-Year Transport Plan from the date of publication of the plan. 
Mr. Jamieson: The 10-Year Plan for Transport, published in July 2000, covers spending plans for the 10 years from 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2011. As such, rail expenditure in 200001 falls outside of the plan period.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if there was unused rail provision in 200001 in excess of the £290 million now allocated to the 10-Year Transport Plan. 
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and (b) London Underground Ltd.'s Business Plan in connection with the financial risk of the public private partnership of the London Underground; and if he will make a statement. 
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 7 November 2001, Official Report, column 289W, on London Underground, if he will place the letters of comfort which have subsequently been issued in the Library; on what date they were issued; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is considering issuing a comfort letter in relation to the tube modernisation contracts, but has not yet done so. Such a letter will only be issued after it has first been reported to Parliament.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in the plans for modernising London Underground, how many stations the Government will ensure are wheelchair accessible; and what increase that is on the present figure. 
I understand from London Underground that 29 of their stations currently provide full step-free access (a further seven stations with step-free access are served by London Underground trains but not owned by London Underground). In addition, 16 stations provide partial step-free access, usually to one platform only. Five stations will gain full step-free access this year. The modernisation contracts specifically require a further 13 stations, where designs are sufficiently developed, to be made step-free. The contracts also provide for London Underground to take forward further schemes as designs are developed. London Underground plans to develop a network of around 100 stations with step-free access by 2020. Once London Underground has transferred to Transport for London, decisions on priorities will be for the Mayor and TfL.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many broken down escalators there were on London Underground stations in each of the last 10 years. 
Mr. Spellar: This is an operational matter for London Underground who inform me that they track escalator performance through keeping records of the percentage of machines available for service. They believe that these figures give the best indication of service levels but, because they include the effects of planned works (overhauls and renewals) as well as faults, this means that in practice it would be virtually impossible to achieve 100 per cent. availability.
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|Escalator availability (percentage)
(41) Data for years prior to 199495 could be provided only at disproportionate cost
Escalator availability across the network fell in the last two years because cracks were detected in the top-shafts and steps of three types of escalator at various stages in 1999 and 2000. 52 escalators were affected by these faults, and all have now been repaired and are back in service. The completion of these works has had a notable impact on recent escalator performancewith performance comfortably above 93 per cent. since the beginning of 200102.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what estimate he has made of the (a) maintenance backlog at London Underground and (b) speed at which the maintenance backlog would be dealt with under a public-private partnership of the tube. 
Mr. Spellar: I understand that in 1997 London Underground estimated that there was a backlog of £1.2 billion. The Government have provided sufficient funding to prevent any worsening of the backlog and to enable renewal and replacement of essential assets. It is only possible to eliminate the backlog through a stable, long-term investment programme, which the 30 year modernisation plans are designed to provide. The plans will eliminate the maintenance backlog and deliver increased capacity, improved reliability and higher quality as quickly as is possible without excessive disruption to current services.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the average number of trains in service was broken down by line on London Underground in each of the last 10 years. 
Mr. Spellar: This is an operational matter for London Underground, who inform me that information is not available in the form requested, because they measure service reliability by total train kilometres operated, rather than the number of trains in service.
London Underground use this measure because the provision of a full schedule requires trains to enter and be withdrawn from service continuously and follow diverse journey patterns. Consequently, the number of trains operating on each line varies considerably by hour, as trains are put into or are withdrawn from service.
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Sonic line inspection equipment used to inspect railway lines for gauge and corner cracking; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what tests were conducted on the U14 Ultra Sonic line to ensure that it could detect flaws and cracks in rails; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) how much of the rail network has been checked using the U14 Ultra Sonic line inspection equipment; when he expects the task to be completed; and if he will make a statement; 
(5) who manufactures the U14 Ultra Sonic rail track inspection equipment; how many units are involved in inspecting the track within the equipment; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: These are operational matters for Railtrack plc in railway administration, which remains subject to regulation by the rail regulator in respect of its network stewardship and maintenance and renewal practices; and by the Health and Safety Executive in respect of health and safety.