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Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many civil servants in his Department worked from home for at least one day a week in the last year for which figures are available. 
Ms Buck: The Department and its agencies have a flexible approach in helping staff meet work life balance commitments. Although the Department does not have a home working policy, other policies cover a variety of working patterns. These patterns include flexible working hours, staggered hours, part-time working and job share. In addition, requests to work from home on an ad hoc basis are subject to line agreement.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the implications for United Kingdom transport policy of
16 Jan 2006 : Column 932W
the EU sustainable development strategy noted in the EU Council Communique", Part VI, on conclusion of the European Council on 15 to 16 December 2005. 
Dr. Ladyman: We are currently considering the implications for United Kingdom transport policy of the Commission's proposal to review the EU Sustainable Development Strategy. This is with a view to playing a full part in the discussions that the Austrian presidency of the Council of the European Union will set-up during the first half of 2006.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Gloucestershire county council on its proposals for public transport in its local transport plan with particular reference to buses. 
Ms Buck: The Secretary of State and other Transport Ministers have not had any meetings with Gloucestershire county council about its local transport plan. Officials based in both the central Department for Transport and the Government office for the south west have met Gloucestershire county council officials about the development of the county council's local transport plan including about the potential role of buses in it, regularly during the last two years. Officials also met a number of Gloucestershire county council's members about the plan in June 2005.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the M1 is being resurfaced between junctions 20 and 21; how long the work will take; and what the total cost is of the work. 
Dr. Ladyman: The M1 between junctions 20 and 21 is being resurfaced for safety reasons. The existing surface was reaching the end of its useful life and represented an increasing hazard to road users.
In order to minimise traffic disruption the resurfacing is being carried out in several phases. The first phase started in July 2005 and was completed in December. The second phase started on 4 January and is due for completion in March. Other phases will follow subject to the availability of funding.
Dr. Ladyman: No monitoring is being undertaken by the Department on the economic impact of the M6 toll as the impact of any major new infrastructure is only likely to show over a longer period. We will consider whether to make such an assessment after a period of about five years from opening.
Dr. Ladyman: Negotiations are currently under way between the Highways Agency, Shropshire county council and Shrewsbury and Atcham borough council about funding for this sign. Assuming agreement is reached, the sign should be erected during the first part of the 200607 financial year.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria are used when deciding whether to resurface a motorway for the purpose of reducing tyre noise; whether such work is always held in abeyance until the road surface in question needs replacing; what the typical additional cost of such work is over normal resurfacing; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: During the assessment of the Highways Agency's Spending Review 2004 submission, Ministers agreed that the resurfacing of concrete roads ahead of maintenance need, for noise reasons, would not be allocated funding.
The Highways Agency resurfaces sections of carriageway for the purpose of reducing tyre noise where there is a maintenance requirement, where it is required on safety grounds (due to loss of surface texture required for skid resistance in the wet), or as a result of general wear and tear caused by traffic.
The carriageway maintenance programme is developed on a whole life cost basis, identifying the appropriate maintenance treatment at the optimum time. When resurfacing a carriageway, it is standard Highways Agency practice to use quieter surfacing materials. There is no additional cost for these materials compared with conventional surfacing materials as they can be laid quickly; therefore, the overall laying costs are a lot less.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 15 November 2005, Official Report, column 1150W, what mechanisms exist in the franchising process for train operating companies to ensure that an appropriate level of risk is transferred to the private sector; and what level of risk he deems appropriate. 
Derek Twigg: The allocation of risk between a train operating company and the Department is governed by the franchise agreement. Following publication of the Future of Rail White Paper, extensive negotiations were undertaken with the Association of Train Operating Companies and a standard form franchise agreement was agreed having taken legal, economic, commercial and financial advice. The standard agreement reflects the optimum risk balance in the light of that that advice.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 15 November 2005, Official Report, column 1150W, what mechanisms exist to ensure that the tendering process for franchises of train operating companies is competitive. 
Derek Twigg: The franchise replacement process follows Office of Government Commerce (OGC) procurement guidelines and is subject to review by independent OGC-appointed reviewers. Selected projects are additionally subject to annual audits.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about proposals for fare increases on the Hastings to Charring Cross line; and if he will make a statement. 
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends (a) to announce the outcome of the Railways for All" consultation and (b) to publish a strategy for rail accessibility. 
Ms Buck: We propose to publish the strategy shortly. A summary of the consultation responses to the draft strategy document, Railways for All", will be published on the Department's website at that time.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has authorised negotiations with rail franchisees to secure agreements to invest in additional and higher quality rolling stock in return for an extension to the franchise period. 
Derek Twigg: There are only two franchises in relation to which discussions on extending the franchise beyond its current term are taking place. These are Silverlink and Central Trains franchises. Increased investment in rolling stock does not form part of these discussions.
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