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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the tram schemes (a) in operation, giving (i) the Government body responsible for oversight and (ii) the start date of the operation, (b) under appraisal and (c) under construction; and if he will make a statement. [68472]

Mr. Jamieson: For parts (a) and (b), I refer the hon. Member to my previous replies of 2 July 2002, Official Report, columns 217–18W. There is only one tram scheme currently under construction—the Nottingham Express Transit (NET), which is due to open in November 2003. In addition, there are a further three schemes which are presently being procured: South Hampshire Rapid Transit System (SHRTS); Leeds Supertram; and the three extensions to Manchester Metrolink.

Thameslink 2000

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement as to the status of the Thameslink 2000 project. [68361]

Mr. Jamieson: A public inquiry into the project was held between June 2000 and May 2001. The report of the inquiry inspector is under consideration in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, as my right hon. Friend is responsible for deciding Railtrack's consent applications.

Railways (London)

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the London orbital rail routes that (a) have been completed in the last two years, (b) are under construction, giving the expected opening date, and (c) are being considered; and if he will make a statement. [68359]

Mr. Jamieson: No new railway lines have been constructed in London in the last two years. Work has already commenced on the extension of the East London line to connect it into the National Rail Network. The Strategic Rail Authority's Strategic Plan gives a target completion date of 2006. The SRA is seeking to enhance levels of orbital rail services over existing infrastructure. The Mayor of London's Transport Strategy details a

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number of aspirations for improved orbital rail services, and these are being examined in conjunction with the SRA.

Rail Services (Overcrowding)

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the level of overcrowding in trains in each year since 1992. [68232]

Mr. Jamieson: Overcrowding is primarily a problem in London in the morning peak. Overall overcrowding levels fell from 1992 to 1996, rose in 1997, fell in 1998, rose in 1999 and 2000 and are unchanged in 2001.

In 2001, nearly half a million people travelled by train into London each morning. This is the highest figure since the late 1980s. Despite this growth in use at peak times, overcrowding has decreased on eight out of the 10 London franchises since spring 2001, and the number of operators that have overcrowding levels exceeding the SRA's threshold has fallen from five to four. These four operators all have plans in place to reduce overcrowding.

Mersey Passenger Transport Authority

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the level of rail expertise in the Mersey Passenger Transport Authority. [69121]

Mr. Jamieson: All Passenger Transport Executives have a range of expertise to enable them to formulate and implement local transport plans and to oversee related transport contracts. They also play a significant role in specifying and monitoring rail performance in their areas.

Car Tax

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to reduce numbers of untaxed cars on the road. [69174]

Mr. Jamieson: Detection of unlicensed vehicles on the public road is carried out by police and traffic wardens, who pass offence reports to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for enforcement action. Last year 800,000 offenders were brought to book, bringing in £110 million in fines, penalties and relicensing revenue.

This day to day enforcement activity is being supplemented by a number of other measures. Since 1997 a nationwide scheme has been operating to wheel clamp and impound unlicensed vehicles seen on the public road. Over 90,000 vehicles have been clamped since the scheme started. The scheme has been a success and we are investigating the possibility of expansion.

In addition, we significantly increased the number of joint DVLA/police campaigns against VED evaders last year and these are running at a record level. We also introduced mobile digital camera technology to detect unlicensed moving vehicles. This complements other activities which concentrate more on stationary vehicles.

DVLA is also working closely with other enforcement agencies in a pilot scheme to target both unlicensed and abandoned vehicles. Operation Cubit is a joint operation between DVLA, the police, fire service and local authorities which removes offending vehicles from the

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road immediately. It is proving to be very popular with members of the public with each vehicle being dealt with by the legislation which is appropriate to its condition.

Another pilot scheme recently proved the feasibility of local authorities using DVLA's powers to wheel clamp and impound unlicensed vehicles. This is now being rolled out to any local authorities that wish to join the scheme.

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to require the DVLA to introduce (a) on-line and (b) telephone notification of untaxed cars. [69176]

Mr. Jamieson: DVLA currently accepts on-line notification of untaxed vehicles. Plans are also in hand to enhance the agency's website to make it even easier for customers to report untaxed vehicles on-line.

DVLA has also set up a trial telephone hotline notification scheme of untaxed vehicles in Hertfordshire. This started on 26 February 2002. The trial is being carefully monitored and if it proves a success, will be rolled out on a nationwide basis and will be given wide publicity.

Car Use

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the answer of 4 July 2002, Official Report, column 466W, on car use, what the (a) location of and (b) amount spent on each bursary was in (i) 2000–01 and (ii) 2001–02. [68759]

Mr. Jamieson: In February 2001 we awarded 111 bursaries to 84 local authorities at a cost of £9 million over three years, to employ co-ordinators to support the development of travel plans for schools and places of work. The location and amount claimed by each local authority has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the answer of 4 July 2002, Official Report, column 466W, on car use, what assessment he has made of the travel plans presented by the local authorities; and which plans were identified by his Department as examples of best practice. [68758]

Mr. Jamieson: Although we have carried out research to establish the number of plans being implemented by local authorities, we have not undertaken an evaluation of the individual plans themselves. However, we intend to publish shortly a guide on "Making Travel Plans Work: Lessons from UK Case Studies" together with the research report and the 20 case study summaries on which the guide is based. Two of these case studies are of plans prepared by local authorities, Buckinghamshire county council and Wycombe district. We are about to commission an evaluation of the bursary scheme for local authority travel plan co-ordinators and an evaluation of the programme of free site-specific advice on travel plans.

London Underground

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what statistics he collates on the number of people on the London Underground network who (a) manage to get on the first train that arrives from when they step onto the platform, (b) have to let one train go by due to

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overcrowding, (c) have to let two trains go by due to overcrowding and (d) have to let three or more trains go by due to overcrowding. [69177]

Mr. Jamieson: Detailed operational information of this nature is a matter for London Underground. However, I am informed that they do not collect information in the form requested.

Bus Lanes

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to consult on regulations enabling camera enforcement of bus lanes by local authorities outside London. [69925]

Mr. Spellar: We have today published draft regulations for consultation. Copies of the consultation letter and draft regulations will be placed in the Library. The draft regulations place the liability for payment of the penalty charge where a vehicle is driven illegally in a bus lane on the registered keeper, except that where a vehicle is subject to a hire agreement, liability falls upon the person who has hired the vehicle, and where a vehicle is being kept by a motor trader who is not the vehicle's registered keeper, liability falls upon the motor trader.

During the passage of the Transport Act 2000 we indicated that it was intended, at least initially, that regulations for bus lane enforcement outside London would be made on the basis of driver liability. In preparing the draft regulations, advice was taken from a working party of local authority representatives, and from the independent adjudication services dealing with parking appeals and, in London, bus lane appeals, flowing from local authority enforcement. They made representations that pursuing the driver is not a practical option for civil enforcement of bus lane contraventions. Merit is also seen in having a civil enforcement regime for bus lane contraventions that parallels the well established owner liability regime of decriminalised parking enforcement. Therefore, we decided that the draft regulations would place liability for payment of a penalty charge on the registered keeper, subject to the aforementioned exceptions.

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