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National Cycling Strategy

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Charlotte Atkins): The Government are committed to encouraging more cycling in England, given the benefits in terms of transport, public health and the environment. Today the Department for Transport is publishing a review of the 1996 National Cycling Strategy, copies of which have been placed in the Library.

The key findings of the review are that:

I am therefore announcing today that we will form a new, cross-Government group of representatives from interested Departments: Transport; Education and Skills; Health; Culture, Media and Sport (represented by Sport England); Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. This group will set broad objectives to get more people cycling, more safely.

We will also create a new expert advisory body, Cycling England, to plan and co-ordinate Government investment in cycling, reporting to the cross-Government group. Cycling England will have a budget of £5 million per annum for the next three years to allocate to cycling programmes. It will comprise experts in transport policy, engineering, public health, the cycle industry, local government, cycle sport, cycle training and education. Cycling England will not be a separate spending body in itself, but there will be a presumption that Government will invest the £5 million budget earmarked in cycling in accordance with its advice. Cycling England will monitor programmes and be accountable to the Government group and Ministers for the value for money and effectiveness of its programmes.

We expect Cycling England to extend our co-operation with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in cycling. NGOs in this field bring huge energy, experience and commitment and have been very effective in their own areas of work. We anticipate making better use of those attributes to supplement the work of local authorities.

It will be for Cycling England to determine its priorities, but we expect its programmes to fall into three broad categories:

King's Cross Station Development

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr. Tony McNulty): My predecessor advised the
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House on 20 January 2004 that he had initiated a review of the final phase of the planned development of the London underground station at King's Cross.

Mott Parsons Gibb (MPG), the Department's technical advisers for the channel tunnel rail link (CTRL) project, subsequently undertook a thorough review of the case for the phase 2 London underground works, in consultation with key stakeholders who might be affected by a change from the original plans for implementing these works. I have placed copies of MPG's final report to Ministers in the House Library. Copies are also available on the Department's website.

The report examined a range of options for the works, and their practical, operational, and financial implications. The main conclusions were as follows:

On this basis, the Government have concluded that the phase 2 works, including the northern ticket hall, should proceed without further delay, and that these should be co-ordinated with development of plans for the NR western concourse in order to ensure an integrated overall design and programme which should deliver the combined scheme as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. The Department is now taking this forward with London Underground, Network Rail and other key stakeholders.

Rail Security

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Alistair Darling): Following the Madrid rail attacks in March 2004, the Government undertook a comprehensive review to examine rail security measures already in place in the UK and investigate new ideas and ways of improving current measures. It was undertaken in conjunction with the British Transport Police (BTP), industry and other Government Departments.

Rail and underground security in the UK already has strong foundations in place which have been developed over time to deter the Irish terrorist threat. The review built on lessons learnt from this threat but also focused on the different methods used increasingly by international terrorists. It also took account of the obvious constraints and practical difficulties in trying to secure the open, mass-transit system that characterises the rail network today.
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What the review did was to identify a package of short, medium and long-term measures to enhance rail counter-terrorist security. A key feature of the review was to ensure that the measures were proportionate, pragmatic, sustainable and did not place an undue burden on industry.

The resulting measures are producing incremental enhancements in the security of the rail network, without requiring a significant shift in the open nature of the rail system. Each of the measures seeks to address the vulnerabilities of the existing security regime and goes some way in deterring potential terrorist activity.

Significant progress has been achieved with the industry so far in translating these recommendations into real changes on the ground. Some examples include:

A vital element in maintaining the security of the railways and deterring potential terrorist activity rests with the BTP, who acts as the first line of defence in combating the threat posed by terrorism on the railways. It has security capabilities unavailable to railway operators which include:

Working in partnership with the Department and the industry, the BTP supplements the operators' protective security procedures. In addition, agreement has been reached with the Association of Chief Police Officers to enhance the BTP's policing presence in the event of a heightened threat level.

In response to the changing security environment, the Government has taken concrete steps to position the rail industry and the travelling public against the new threats faced today from international terrorism.
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The outcomes from the review and the enhanced policing operations make a genuine difference to the security measures in place prior to the terrorist attacks in Madrid. Combined, the measures are improving the way security is administered by industry and the BTP, and perceived by the public.

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