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6 Jun 2005 : Column 280W—continued

New Cars

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average weight of a new car has been in each year since 1985. [1490]

Dr. Ladyman: This information is not available.

One Train-operating Company

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many complaints his Department has received about the One train-operating company. [2302]

Derek Twigg: This information is not held centrally by the Department. Information regarding complaints can be obtained from Train Operating Companies or the Rail Passengers Council.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport against what criteria the performance of the One train operating company will be assessed when deciding whether or not to renew its franchise. [2305]

Derek Twigg: Franchises are let by open competition. The current One franchise is not due to expire until April 2011, or April 2014 if specified performance targets are met. The exact criteria for its re-franchising will not be determined until nearer that time.

Pelican and Puffin Crossings

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research he has commissioned on the effectiveness of (a) pelican and (b) puffin crossings. [1791]

Ms Buck: Pelican crossings were introduced in 1969. We have no recent studies of their effectiveness but studies into the effects of converting a zebra to a pelican crossing, comparisons of pedestrian crossings, and the comparative safety of pedestrian crossings were conducted in the years following their introduction. Reports are available from TRL Limited (formerly the Transport Research Laboratory).

Research carried out by the Transport and Research Laboratory for my Department in 1992 following the introduction of new puffin crossing estimated an average net benefit of approximately £10,000 per site per annum through reduced vehicle delays, giving an overall benefit across the country of about £50 million, if installations were to take place at all sites.

The Highways Agency commissioned work from the London Accident Analysis Unit in 1996 to carry out a comparative accident study at five pelican crossing conversions to puffins. The investigations found that puffin was no worse than a pelican crossing but in some cases it was better in terms of accidents involving pedestrians.

Further research has been commissioned by the Department for Transport to examine the effectiveness of puffin crossings at six sites and the effect of the new crossing on pedestrian and driver behaviour. This work will conclude by the end of this year.

Ports Strategy

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to bring forward a national ports strategy. [1572]

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Dr. Ladyman: The Department announced in The Future of Transport" White Paper (Cm 6234, paragraph 7.28) their intention to review the national framework of ports policy once decisions have been taken on the outstanding applications for major container-port development. That remains the case.

Railway Punctuality

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the change in punctuality levels on the railways between 1998 and 2004; and if he will make a statement. [1670]

Derek Twigg: The Moving Annual Average (MAA) of the Public Performance Measure (PPM) of rail performance fell from 89.7 per cent. at March 1998 to 86.1 per cent. in the month before the Hatfield accident (October 2000).

The Hatfield accident revealed the degree to which the network had deteriorated under Railtrack and led to temporary speed restrictions being imposed across the network. The levels of PPM subsequently fell to 64 per cent. in the three months following the accident.

Since Hatfield there has been a slow recovery in performance.

Network Rail and the train companies have put in place programmes to reduce the major causes of delay with targeted plans which have delivered improvement.

There has been a continual and increasing rate of improvement in rail performance with the moving annual average of PPM increasing from 78.0 per cent. at the end of March 2002 to 82.8 per cent. at the end December 2004.

Road Accidents

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he collects on the relative likelihood of being involved in a road accident in (a) a saloon car and (b) a 44 vehicle. [1488]

Dr. Ladyman: The information requested is not available.

Solar-powered Devices

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what use (a) is being made and (b) is planned for solar-powered devices on, over or under the road network; whether trials of such equipment are scheduled; and if he will make a statement. [1629]

Dr. Ladyman: Individual solar-powered devices are used by highway authorities as an energy source on road side equipment, such as speed actuated signs, where practicable and cost effective. The Highways Agency is undertaking trials into the effectiveness of solar panels mounted alongside trunk roads. A separate trial is evaluating the use of the road as a collector for solar energy.
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Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what exercises the (a) armed forces and (b) emergency services have carried out with (i) airlines and (ii) the commercial aviation sector in relation to the terrorist threat from (A) surface to air missiles and (B) hijacked aircraft used as weapons. [796]

Ms Buck: Counter Terrorist exercises are the responsibility of the Home Office. The Department for Transport and the Ministry of Defence participate in and facilitate such exercises as necessary.

It is not appropriate to disclose further details about these exercises.

Train Evacuation (Burton-upon-Trent)

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason a mass evacuation of a train took place on 16 May near Burton-upon-Trent; what investigations are being carried out into this incident; whether rolling stock failure was a cause of the incident; what assessment he has made of the safety implications of the incident; and if he will make a statement. [1480]

Derek Twigg: At 09:50 on 16 May, the 06:40 Virgin Cross Country Newcastle Central–Bournemouth service was evacuated near Burton-on-Trent station, because of the fire risk posed by leaking diesel fuel. Network Rail and the emergency services attended the incident.

The incident is now under investigation by Network Rail and the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) HM Railway Inspectorate (HMRI), the Government's independent railway health and safety regulator.

Two of the train's diesel fuel tanks had ruptured leading to the leakage of diesel fuel onto the track. The causes of the fuel tank ruptures are still under investigation.

All passengers were evacuated safely by 10:10 and no fire was reported subsequently. HSE supports fully the precautionary approach taken by the train's crew and Network Rail staff in evacuating passengers. HSE's HMRI will ensure that any lessons are learnt.

Train-related Deaths

John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people have died on train lines in each year since 1990; and how many of them were suicides. [1730]

Derek Twigg: The following table provides (a) the details of the number of people that have died on Britain's train lines since 1990 and (b) how many of these were recorded as suicides.
Total suicides and overall annual fatalities on Britain's railways, 1990–2004

(a) Total fatalities(5)(b) Suicides(6)

(5)The total fatalities group includes fatalities of passengers, railway employees and other members of the public, trespasses and suicides.
(6)Suicides are a sub-set of the total fatalities group.
(7)1991–92 was a 15-month period (1 January 1991 to 31 March 1992).
(8)Of the 151 trespasser fatalities in 2004, a total of 98 are suspected suicides (but only 43 have yet been recorded formally as suicide).
(9)Provisional figures for the nine-month period (1 April 2004 to 31 December 2004).

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