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21 Feb 2005 : Column 210W—continued

Official Residences

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the official residences for which his Department is responsible; who occupies each one; what the annual cost is of running each property; what contribution the current occupants make towards the running costs of each; what the total capital and refurbishment expenditure has been on those properties in each of the past five years; how much money was spent in each property on (a) flowers and plants, (b) wine and entertaining, (c) food, (d) telephone bills and (e) electricity and gas in 2003–04; how many (i)domestic and (ii) maintenance staff are employed at each property, broken down by post; and what the total cost of staff employment at each was in 2003–04. [213608]

Charlotte Atkins: The Department for Transport has no residential properties used by Ministers or officials.

Powered Wheelchairs/Scooters

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress he has made in his review of powered wheelchairs and scooters. [216919]

Charlotte Atkins: The first part of the review into the use of powered wheelchairs and powered scooters on the highway has been a research project to gather data and to find out the views of a wide range of stakeholders about the current laws. That work is now complete and draft reports have been submitted to the Department. The next stage will be to consider the findings of the research to determine whether any changes are required to the current laws and guidance.


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the future of the Powershift energy efficient vehicle programme; and what new initiatives he plans on more environmentally benign transport. [217167]

Mr. Jamieson: Following a consultation last year, the Department for Transport has announced that changes are being made to all the TransportEnergy .grant programmes, including Powershift, after the end of this financial year. The Government plans to move to a technology neutral approach—to incentivise the
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cleanest cars regardless of the technology or fuel type. The Government will also be adjusting the programmes to ensure they comply with European rules on state aid.

The State Aid rules limit the amount of grant that member states can offer for environmental initiatives. In some cases this will mean that future grant levels will need to be reduced to ensure the grants allocated do not exceed permitted levels. However, overall funding for the grant programmes remains at planned levels, enabling more grants to be allocated to more interested parties.

The Department will honour grant offer letters under the PowerShift programme until 31 March 2005. The timescale for introducing the new programmes will be dependent on the process of reviewing and clearing them with the European Commission. My officials will be working hard to ensure that this process is completed as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Details of the new programmes have yet to be finalised. However, it is intended that Powershift will be replaced by a Low Carbon Vehicle programme that will award grants for cars on the basis of CO 2 performance. The Government also intends to seek European Commission approval of a Low Carbon Bus Programme to support demonstration trials of small fleets of low carbon buses.

Rail Fares

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Wessex Trains with regard to recent fare increases. [217409]

Mr. McNulty: None. The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has responsibility for regulating fares on the national rail network. Fares are regulated as prescribed in franchise agreements between the SRA and the train operating companies.

Rail Freight

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the Strategic Rail Authority on the publication of the Freight Assessments Need South East report. [216788]

Mr. McNulty: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 3 February 2005, Official Report, column 1035W given to the hon. Member for Portsmouth South, (Mr. Hancock).

The Strategic Rail Authority has made assessments of the demand for freight on the railways in a series of market studies, referred to in the answer of 19 January 2005, Official Report, column 958W. Although they are UK market studies, much of the analysis is route specific, allowing for regional impacts to be assessed.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much freight was moved, by tonne kilometres, on the UK railways, in each year since 1990. [217211]

Mr. Darling: The information requested is in the table. This has been taken from the 'National Rail Trends Yearbook 2003–04', published by the Strategic Rail Authority.
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Billion net tonne kms

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the number of Railfreight interchanges which will be required in the UK. [217266]

Mr. McNulty: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 3 February 2005, Official Report, column 1036W, given to the hon. Member for Heywood and Middleton (Jim Dobbin).

Rail Services

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with train operating companies about the frequency of the services to and from Ashchurch station near Tewkesbury; and if he will make a statement. [216453]

Mr. McNulty: None. Train operators are contractually required to operate a minimum level of service as prescribed in their franchise agreements with the Strategic Rail Authority. The current frequency of service to Ashchurch complies with Central Trains' and Wessex Trains' contractual requirements.

Railway Noise

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will discuss with Network Rail the modification of train horns which have been installed to meet the now obsolete specification for minimum noise standards in order to reduce the impact of train horn noise on trackside residents. [216661]

Mr. McNulty: The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) is responsible for specifying the requirements for when and where train horns must be used and Network Rail is responsible for deciding how train operators comply with the standards set by the RSSB.

The RSSB has now lowered the minimum permissible sound level for train horns by eight decibels. This will permit train operators to modify and make adjustments to the volume of train horns where they consider it. South East Trains and Southern Trains have begun to install modified train horns on their fleets.

Railway Stations (Lancashire)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will make a statement on funding for (a) new and (b) reopening railway stations in Lancashire; [216210]
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(2) if he will make a statement on the new bus and improved railway station at Chorley; and how much central government money was used to fund the project. [216211]

Mr. McNulty: Funding of £137,000 was provided under the Strategic Rail Authority's Rail Passenger Partnership (RPP) scheme and a further £283,000 was provided from the Department's capital allocation grant to Lancashire county council, to support refurbishment works at Chorley station.

There are currently no plans to support funding for new, or the re-opening of, stations in Lancashire.

Regional Transport Boards

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the expenditure on regional transport boards was in 2003–04; which areas each covers; and how many staff each employs. [217361]

Charlotte Atkins: There were no regional transport boards in 2003–04. Two experimental transport boards were established by the South East and Yorkshire and Humberside regions in 2004–05. The costs and staffing resources were effectively absorbed by the relevant organisations.

Road Humps

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he next expects to update guidelines on the use of road humps. [216330]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department hope to publish a Local Transport Note (LTN) on the design and effectiveness of traffic calming measures later this year. This document will draw together existing research and guidance on a range of traffic calming features, including road humps. There are no current plans to specifically update guidelines on the use of road humps.

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