Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on Network Rail's plans for developing services on the West Coast mainline. 
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans exist for (a) electrification of lines from Hurst Green to Uckfield, (b) electrification of lines from Hastings to Ashford, (c) station improvements on the South Central line, (d) increased depot capacity, (e) platform lengthening, (f) the refurbishment of all power-door rolling stock on the South Central line, (g) enhancements at Gatwick airport for performance and capacity gains, (h) infrastructure work on the Brighton main line, (i) infrastructure facilities to allow faster trains to overtake slower stopping services on the Coastway route, (j) upgrade of the Arun valley line and (k) upgrade of the Sutton route, on the South Central route; and what is the expected (i) start date and (ii) completion date for such work. 
Mr. Byers: The Heads of Terms for a new 20-year South Central franchise, signed by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and Govia on 24 October 2000, include these commitments. I expect the SRA to be able to sign a new franchise agreement with Govia later this year.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations he has received from (a) Govia, (b) the SRA, (c) Railtrack plc and its administrators and (d) Network Rail, with respect to the SPV being developed by Govia to upgrade infrastructure around London and the south coast. 
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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what funds are available as part of the SRA plan for the development of additional railheads in the Greater London area; 
Mr. Byers: The Strategic Rail Authority's Freight Strategy, published last year, explains in detail the authority's funding strategy and its assessment of the future need for rail freight interchanges.
Mr. Jamieson: The Commission published its second railway package on 23 January. It includes formal proposals to complete liberalisation of rail freight markets, on safety, interoperability, the creation of a European Rail Agency and Community accession to the COTIF convention (the convention concerning international carriage by rail).
The Communication also outlines the Commission's strategy for the next five years, including consideration of proposals on the quality of rail freight services; overcoming the barriers to entry to, and providing high-quality infrastructure for, European rail freight; improving the environmental performance of rail freight; extending liberalisation of international passenger services; and improving passenger rights.
Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the terms of reference are of the study commissioned by the Strategic Rail Authority into a high speed rail link from London to the north. 
Mr. Jamieson: The SRA are conducting a feasibility study to determine the need for, and viability of a new north-south high speed passenger line. The study, which will report by the end of the year, will consider and compare a wide range of rail capacity enhancement options which may be required to satisfy the long term growth in demand for north-south passenger movements.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to the answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, ref. 45304, on rolling stock, if the Railway Safety
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Regulations 1999 prohibit steam locomotives from operating on the main network unless protected by TPWS or a similar system. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Railway Safety Regulations 1999 prohibit steam trains from operating on the mainline network at speeds above 25 mph after the end of 2003, unless they are protected by a suitable train protection system. I understand from the Health and Safety Executive that a train protection and warning system (TPWS) suitable for use by steam trains is currently under development.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list those organisations consulted by his Department prior to the agreement of a grant to Network Rail for bringing Railtrack out of administration early. 
Mr. Byers [holding answer 15 April 2002]: Discussions took place with HM Treasury and the SRA before the Department indicated to Network Rail that it was willing to offer a grant payment to reflect the public benefits of an earlier exit from administration than would otherwise be the case.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what provision exists in European law for the extension of state aid support to Railtrack in administration beyond 7 October; 
(3) what advice his Department has received about state aid rules relating to support for Railtrack beyond 7 October. 
Mr. Jamieson: If the Network Rail bid were to be successful, any state aid provided to the company would be notified as permanent financial support that would bring the administration of Railtrack plc to a close. But if administration were to continue, state aid clearance would be sought as necessary as an extension of the existing clearance or as a separate notification if more appropriate.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to the answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 956W, if he has set aside contingency funds to cover an unexpectedly high periodic review. 
Mr. Jamieson: The regulator has a statutory duty under section 4 of the Railways Act 1993, as amended by section 224 of the Transport Act 2000, to have regard to the SRA's budget when undertaking a review. The Government would consider any appropriate budgetary adjustments as and when any such review takes place.
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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will place (a) written guarantees and (b) letters of comfort for financiers issued by his Department or the Strategic Rail Authority to Network Rail in the Library. 
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in what timeframe the proposed standby loans from the SRA to Network Rail will be available to the new company.