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15 Oct 2002 : Column 709Wcontinued
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many movements of spent nuclear fuel occurred in each year from 1997 (a) by air within UK airspace, (b) by sea within UK waters, (c) by rail and (d) by road. 
Mr. Jamieson: The rules covering sea and air transport of radioactive material are, respectively, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code (Amendment 3000) produced by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the
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Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air, 20012002 Edition, produced by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
Within Europe, international road transport is covered by the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR), 2001 Edition, produced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Similarly, rail transport is covered by the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) Appendix B. Uniform Rules concerning the Contract for International Carriage of Goods by Rail (CIM) Annex 1 Regulations concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID), 2001 Edition.
All rules for the safe transport of radioactive materials are based on the Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials prepared by the International Atomic Energy Agency (the latest version being the 1996 Edition (revised)).
Mr. Jamieson: The Government are funding through the Highways Agency two studies covering Taunton and one survey (at various locations). Similar information of a much more localised nature would be available from Somerset County Council itself.
Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the (a) reliability and (b) punctuality of rail services between Taunton and (i) London, (ii) Aberdeen, (iii) Plymouth and (iv) Penzance. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority publishes performance statistics for all train operating companies every three months in National Rail Trends and every six months in On Track. The figures for each operator are not broken down to route level. Copies of these publications have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects new trains to be deployed on the Paddington to Bristol line in sufficient numbers to ensure that all Paddington to Taunton services use high-speed train sets. 
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The figures for 1997 are not readily available and were recorded using different Home Office rules that would not be comparable with the figures for subsequent years.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) officers and (b) other staff there were in the British Transport Police in (i) 1997, (ii) 1998, (iii) 1999 and (iv) 2000; and how many there are now. 
(3) if he will list the persons and organisations consulted before his announcement that the West Coast main line will close next year. 
Mr. Jamieson: These are matters for the Strategic Rail Authority. On 9 October, the SRA published for consultation their draft Strategy for delivering the modernisation of the West Coast Main Line. The Strategy includes consideration of alternative service patterns on sections of line when work is in progress.
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estimated costs of the project have already been taken into account by the Rail Regulator in determining Railtrack's income requirements, an element of that income will have been supported by public funding to train operating companies using the line which has flowed through to Railtrack in the form of access charges, and by public funding for network grants paid to Railtrack.
Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority commissioned a study of the wider strategic options for services on the East-West corridor. This confirmed that viable options exist for services on the Oxford-Milton Keynes corridor, but found little evidence that services east of Bedford would be economically viable or provide value for money if supported by public funds. However, the SRA is exploring with Network Rail and other relevant parties options for keeping parts of the East-West route in railway ownership and safeguarding potential infrastructure alignments in the West Coast and East Coast Main Line upgrades.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to undertake an assessment of the road and public transport infrastructure in London and the South East of England before the house-building programme announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review begins; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: We are working with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to develop its comprehensive long-term programme of action for building sustainable communities. Transport has an important role in this, and we will be working closely with regional and local partners to understand their particular transport needs as plans develop.
Mr. Jamieson: We are using the powers in Part V of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to introduce regulations which will ensure that public transport is accessible to disabled people, including those who need to travel in a wheelchair.
The Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 were the first to be made and affect all new passenger rolling stock entering service since 1 January 1999. Those regulations apply not only to rolling stock on mainline services, but also to light rail systems and underground systems.
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Similar regulationsthe Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000apply to new buses and coaches with a carrying capacity of more than 22 passengers which are used on local and scheduled services. Those regulations have applied since 31 December 2000. Different dates for compliance with the wheelchair access requirements have been set for different vehicle types, ie
The Act also makes provision for accessibility regulations to be made for licensed taxis. We are currently considering how best to take forward those provisions. In the meantime we have already introduced a requirement for taxi drivers to accept assistance dogs accompanying a disabled person and to carry those dogs free of charge. That requirement came into force on 31 March 2001.
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