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18 Nov 2004 : Column 1857W—continued


Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the closure of the M25 from Saturday 13 to Monday 15 November. [199096]

Mr. Jamieson: There were severe delays and inconvenience caused to motorists as a result of the fatal accident that occurred on the M25 involving an overturned petrol tanker between Junctions 5 and 6 on the evening of Friday 12 November. As the result of spillage of highly combustible fuel, the emergency services imposed a closure for safety reasons until the necessary extensive remedial works were completed.

The Highways Agency, Environment Agency and the emergency services are urgently carrying out a thorough investigation into this incident and its management. As soon as the findings are known, the relevant information will be forwarded to the hon. Member and copies placed in the Libraries of the House.


Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) purpose and (b) cost are of the road works on the side of both carriageways of the M4, east of junction 18. [199167]

Mr. Jamieson: The works on the M4 east of junction 18 are part of a series of works being carried out to provide better information to the travelling public. The works will allow for better use of the motorway network and will enable the provision of live traffic information to the Regional Control Centres that are being introduced.

This phase comprises the installation of fibre optic cables along the verges of the carriageway to allow the erection of variable message signs, CCTV cameras and vehicle queuing detection equipment. The variable message signs will be used to keep drivers informed about what is happening ahead of them on the motorway network, for example, to give warnings and advice about accidents, congestion and road works.

The current phase of the works is costing £4.5 million.

New Rail Services

Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many new passenger rail services were introduced in each of the last seven years. [198695]

Mr. McNulty: A table produced by ATOC showing the number of timetabled services run on a normal weekday since May 1995 has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Privatised Rail Companies

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many passenger complaints have been
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made to each of the privatised rail companies in the last year; and how many were made in the previous year. [199197]

Mr. McNulty: Complaints rate per 100,000 passenger journeys data is published in the Strategic Rail Authority's "National Rail Trends Yearbook 2003–2004", a copy of which is held in the Library of the House.

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what refunds each of the privatised rail companies have given for poor punctuality and service in each of the last three years. [199198]

Mr. McNulty: Train operating companies (TOCs) provide compensation to passengers in accordance with their Passenger's Charters. TOCs are not required to provide information to Government on the amounts of compensation given.

Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what penalties are imposed on the privatised rail companies for poor service; and on what criteria these penalties are based. [199199]

Mr. McNulty: The Strategic Rail Authority operates a number of regimes which make incentive payments or impose penalties to train operating companies (TOCs). These regimes are for punctuality/reliability of services, provision of rolling stock formations as timetabled to meet demand and changes to planned timetables.

For punctuality/reliability the punctuality incentive payment (PIP) regime measures performance of peak London commuter services and regional and rural services against an historical benchmark of annual average performance. For the provision of rolling stock, the short formation incentive payment (SFEP) applies to operators providing peak services into London and some other cities where penalties are applied if the operator does not deliver the train plan for capacity. For changes to the planned timetable, the timetable change incentive payment (TCDP) provides an incentive for provision of timely notification of timetable changes to minimise the disruption to passengers. Net payments/penalties to TOCs are shown in the SRA's National Rail Trends Yearbook, which has been placed in the Library of the House.

Passenger transport executives have separate incentive regimes.

Railway Stations

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the Government's policy is on the improvement of railway stations. [191461]

Mr. McNulty: Major station improvements are currently specified by the Strategic Rail Authority and delivered by Network Rail. Over the past five years significant station developments have been delivered at many stations including Paddington, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds; works to complete the CTRL terminus at St. Pancras station are due for completion by early 2007 and proposals are being developed for improvements to be made to a number of further stations including Edinburgh Waverley, Birmingham New Street and London Bridge.
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The SRA's Modern Facilities at Stations Programme will provide improvements at 68 other stations by March 2005. Numerous other small station improvements are continually being delivered by Network Rail and train companies where they consider it appropriate, to do so.

Rescue Services (Morecambe Bay)

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many times the lifeboat and inshore rescue services have been called out to rescue cocklers in Morecambe Bay in the past 12 months. [199153]

Mr. Jamieson: During 2003, nine incidents involving cocklers or cockling craft were recorded at Liverpool Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC), five of which occurred in or around Morecambe Bay. Three of the incidents involved RNLI and Coastguard resources. Two were resolved prior to the launch of any waterborne assets.

During 2004 to date, 22 incidents involving cocklers or cockling craft have been recorded at Liverpool MRSC, all of which have occurred in Morecambe Bay. Four of the incidents have involved cocklers being rescued by a Search and Rescue (SAR) asset. One incident involved 'self help' where the cocklers made shore safely by means of their inflatable dinghy, when their tractor broke down out in the bay. On 13 occasions, the cocklers made shore safely unaided or prior to the launch or arrival of SAR resources. Three occasions were false alarms with good intent where members of the public reported somebody or something in difficulty, but all persons were accounted for and nothing else untoward was sighted. One occasion was to check a vehicle on the beach for occupancy. On arrival of SAR units the vehicle was found to be abandoned.

Road Traffic Deaths

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce procedures to record the number of fatal car accidents that occur as a result of poor servicing of cars. [199246]

Mr. Jamieson: It has not proved possible to respond to my hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.

Rural Railways (North Yorkshire)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his proposals for rural railways in North Yorkshire. [198645]

Mr. McNulty: The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has consulted on proposals for the development of local and rural railways, including those in North Yorkshire and a strategy based on this consultation will be published shortly.

Safety Cameras

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many persons were employed by safety camera partnerships in England and Wales at the latest date for which figures are available; and how many were employed by safety camera partnerships at their inception. [196957]

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Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 10 November 2004]: Safety camera partnerships comprise area police authorities, local highway authorities and magistrates court authorities. Some staff only spend part of their time with the partnership and the rest on duties with their parent authorities—hence the figures are expressed in terms of 'full time equivalents'.

The Safety Camera Programme began in 2000, involving seven local partnerships in England and Wales, which had a total of 210 full-time equivalent posts at the end of the programme's trial year 2000–01. There are now 35 partnerships in England and Wales, covering the whole of Wales and virtually all of England, with 1,692 full-time equivalent posts, on the latest available data.

Of these 1,692 full time equivalent posts:

The independent review of the first three years of the programme's operation, 2000–02 to 2002–03, which the Government published on 15 June showed that cameras were saving over 100 road deaths and over 750 serious injuries a year for the 24 partnerships then in operation—a 40 per cent. reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured at camera sites over and above the general downward trend in UK road casualties, with a financial benefit to society of over four times the resource cost of the programme including staff.

The annual number of avoided deaths and injuries will now be considerably more, with 35 partnerships now in operation. We have commissioned an update of the independent review of the programme's operation. This will be published in the spring.

The partnerships will shortly submit their proposals for 2005–06 including staffing numbers, and the Department will scrutinise these in detail, to ensure that the programme is delivering its valuable benefits in reduced road deaths and casualties as efficiently as possible.

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