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21 Oct 2002 : Column 18W—continued

Road Signs

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road signs have been (a) vandalised, (b) stolen, (c) replaced, (d) lost and (e) erected belonging to the Highways Agency in each year since 1997. [75818]

Mr. Jamieson: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Tim Matthews, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ms Hilary Chipping to Mr. Don Foster, dated 21 October 2002:

Traffic Levels

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends to publish a report on progress in reducing road traffic levels as specified in the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act 1998. [75613]

Mr. Jamieson: The Secretary of State fulfilled his statutory obligations under the Road Traffic Reduction (National Targets) Act 1998 with the publication of ''Tackling Congestion and Pollution'' in January 2000. Section 2(5) of the Act makes provision for the Secretary of State to publish progress reports ''at such times as he deems appropriate''. Paragraph 84 of ''Tackling Congestion and Pollution'' promised that a second

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report under the Act would detail our progress in developing new benchmarks. It remains our intention to publish such a report in due course.

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what data he has collated on (a) forecast traffic levels and (b) actual traffic levels since their opening of the (i) A5190 at Burntwood, (ii) Newbury, (iii) A130, Rettendon turnpike to Howe Green, (iv) Silverstone and (v) Ashby bypasses (A) on the bypass concerned and (B) on other roads in the area, including the impact on town centres. [75014]

Mr. Jamieson: The A5190 Burntwood, the A130, Rettendon turnpike to Howe Green and the Ashby-de-la-Zouche bypass are not trunk roads and are thus the responsibility of the respective local highway authorities. The Department for Transport has therefore not collated data on these schemes.

Continuous traffic count data is being collected by the Highways Agency on several sites on the A34 Newbury Bypass and on the A339. Data is also being collected on other roads in the area by the local highway authority. The recorded traffic flows will be compared with the original traffic predictions in an evaluation report now being prepared for the situation one year after opening. Further surveys, including journey time surveys, are planned for next year in order to create a five-year post-opening report.

Count data at Silverstone was collected over the British Grand Prix weekend, and also just before and just after the opening of the bypass on 18 September this year. A traffic impact study is being drafted, in partnership with Northamptonshire County Council, and will be available to the public when complete. Further evaluation studies will be carried out in one and five years time.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his Department projects the level of traffic in the United Kingdom to be by 2004–05; and how this was calculated. [75610]

Mr Jamieson: Traffic in Great Britain in 2001 was estimated to be 473.7 billion vehicle-kilometres. The Department's publication ''National Road Traffic Forecasts (Great Britain) 1997'' projects that traffic will grow at a rate between 1.35 per cent. per annum and 1.99 per cent. per annum. Applying these growth rates over a period of 3¼ years, traffic in 2004–05 is expected to be between 494.8 and 505.0 billion vehicle-kilometres.

Measures in the Government's Ten Year Plan for Transport were projected to reduce traffic levels below trend by around 5 per cent. by 2010, but that forecasting exercise did not consider how such reductions would be spread over different years within the ten-year period. The impact of Ten Year Plan measures is generally expected to be greater in the second half of the period, because of the time needed for major capital projects to come on-stream.

Traffic forecasting for Northern Ireland is the responsibility of the Roads Service, part of the Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland).

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Concrete Barriers

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research has been conducted and is planned by or for his Department on the benefits of slipformed concrete barriers on motorways and other Highways Agency roads. [75601]

Mr. Jamieson: The Highways Agency led the development of concrete vehicle containment barriers in the UK. The bulk of this work was completed by the early 1990s. This supported the use of concrete barriers in road widening schemes, where space was at a premium. The Agency has subsequently undertaken further research and development to refine the systems. Concrete barriers have been promoted as one of the options acceptable to the Highways Agency in tender documents for new work.

The Agency has also recently contributed with industry towards the costs of investigating the procurement practices in mainland Europe where concrete barriers appear to be used more extensively. Further research is also examining whole life benefits and costs of all vehicle safety barriers to gain a better understanding of the whole life performance of the different types of barrier. There is some evidence that concrete barriers have higher performance characteristics that could be of benefit in particular locations.

Trunk Road Advisory Committee

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made by his Department of the performance of the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment Sustainable Development Education Panel, including performance targets; what reports are produced on its performance; an if he will place copies of such reports not readily available in the Library. [75615]

Mr. Jamieson: The Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment published its last report in 1999 entitled ''Transport and the Economy''. The government published a response to the SACTRA report in May 2000 to assess the report and to respond to the committee's recommendations.

Both these reports are available in the Libraries of the House.

The Sustainable Development Education Panel is the responsibility of the Department for Education and Skills.

Road Hauliers' Licences

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when the computerisation of the compliance and local bus registration systems under the auspices of the Transport Area Network was introduced; what changes there have been to the timetable for introduction and nature of this scheme; and what assessment has been made and is planned of its progress; [75618]

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Mr. Jamieson: The TAN 21 project computerises all the key business functions of the Traffic Area Network. The compliance function was introduced in Jan 2002, 10 weeks behind schedule. Bus registration was introduced in April 2002, 20 weeks behind schedule. The self-service component is 18 months behind schedule and no changes have been made to the original plan. The self-service development was part of a fixed price contract, so the delay resulted in no extra costs. There were no research contracts for the self-service module. TAN21 has been widely welcomed by operators and will be increasingly used by them as the project develops.

South West Trains

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the fares incentive adjustment payment mechanism which applied to journeys operated by South West Trains Ltd. [75167]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority's fares regime for London commuter operators—the Fares Incentive Adjustment Payment regime (FIAP)—links permitted fares increases to operators' performance over the previous 12 months. FIAP allows for a variation on the national cap (RPI–1 per cent.) of up to 2 per cent. to reflect improved performance and minus 2 per cent. to reflect deterioration in performance.

In the year to 31 July 2002 the number of trains arriving on time for most London operators, including South West Trains, improved significantly when compared with the preceding 12 months. This improvement means that the cap on these operators' regulated fares from January 2003 has been set at RPI-1 per cent. The SRA is currently reviewing the fares regime for London operators as part of its policy review of fares regulation. It will make recommendations to Ministers in due course. Any changes in policy will be introduced in 2004.

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