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24 Jan 2006 : Column 1991W—continued

North East Regional Planning Assessment

John Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which (a) regional and (b) local stakeholders have participated in the development of the North East Regional Planning Assessment. [42007]

Derek Twigg: Development of the Regional Planning Assessment has benefited from extensive and constructive engagement with a wide range of stakeholders including the North East Regional Assembly, One North East, Tyne and Wear PTE, the Regional Transport Forum, Local Authorities, Transport Operators and the Rail Passengers' Council.

Parliamentary Questions

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will answer question 34637 tabled by the hon. Member for Rochdale on 30 November 2005. [45379]

Derek Twigg: I have answered the hon. Member's question today.

Passenger Travel Alert Services

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to encourage public transport operators to use passenger travel alert services through mobile communications technology. [44304]

Dr. Ladyman: There are a number of public transport passenger travel alert services already available through mobile technology.

The Department for Transport supports Transport Direct, Britain's free online journey planning service, which offers a real time journey planning service to mobile and Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) users. Users of Transport Direct's mobile and PDA service, which is subject to an ongoing development, can already:

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The Department also supports the Traveline telephone service that is operated by transport operators and local authorities. Traveline has an SMS text service covering Scotland, Wales and parts of England. The service provides info on the next departure times of bus services from bus stops and bus stations within that region, by responding through a text message to a customer request for next bus information.

In addition to scheduled bus times available through the Traveline SMS and phone service, some local authorities provide real time information for bus services through mobile devices. For example the Star Text" scheme in Leicester and the your next bus" service in West Yorkshire provide passengers with real time information about the actual running time of their buses through a text messaging service.

National Rail Enquiries offers a text-back facility which enables mobile phone users to check whether trains are running to schedule. Users text the name of the station (or the designated three-letter station code if they know it) to 484950. By return they receive information on the status of trains that are due over the next hour, with a status report (i.e. On Time", +5m", etc.).

Rapid Transport Lines

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many new rapid transport lines are planned in the next five years; and if he will list them. [40581]

Derek Twigg: Construction has started on an extension to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Woolwich. It is due for completion in 2009.

Phase 1a of the East London bus-based transit scheme linking Ilford with Dagenham Dock via Barking town centre is due for completion in 2007.

The following new rapid transport lines have provisional funding approval:

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A number of other schemes are in various stages of development, some of which may commence construction in the next five years.

Road Accidents (Ice)

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) deaths and (b) serious injuries in road accidents, where the primary cause was ice on the road, there were in each of the past 20 years. [44524]

Dr. Ladyman: Information on the primary cause of personal road injury accidents is not available. The number of fatalities and serious injuries in personal injury road accidents where there was Frost or Ice" on the road surface, is given in the following table for 1985–2004.

Number of fatal and serious casualties by road surface condition Frost or Ice": 1985–2004.
Severity of casualty


(13) Deaths within 30 days of the accident. Excludes confirmed suicides, death from natural causes and injuries to pedestrians with no vehicle involvement (e.g. a fall on the pavement).

Road Improvements

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 16 January 2006, Official Report, column 929W, if he will clarify the information given in relation to road improvement in North East Lincolnshire, with particular reference to low noise resurfacing on the A180 east of Ulceby towards Grimsby. [43728]

Dr. Ladyman: My answer of 16 January confirmed the programmed dates for the low noise carriageway resurfacing of the remaining sections of the A180 in North East Lincolnshire.

The Highways Agency's policy for carriageway resurfacing is developed on a whole life cost basis, identifying the appropriate maintenance treatment at the optimum time and using quieter surfacing materials.

The current Government Spending Review 2004 confirms the Highways Agency's budgets for the period 2005–06 to 2007–08; no indication is available of funding levels beyond this period. Consequently, as the programmed dates for the works concerned fall outside
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the current Spending Review period, the allocation of funding to these resurfacing schemes cannot be confirmed at this time.

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 19 December 2005, Official Report, columns 2318–19W, on road improvement costs, what proportion of the overrun for the targeted programme of improvements can be ascribed to (a) underestimates, (b) fraud, (c) inflation in the construction industry and (d) other factors. [44104]

Dr. Ladyman: The targeted programme of improvements (TPI) table placed in the House Library in December 2005 compares the approved full out-turn cost against the scheme cost submitted for TPI entry approval. Since April 2003 the TPI entry cost has been reported on the basis of full projected out-turn, making allowance for identified risks, inflation up to scheme completion, non-recoverable VAT and for 'optimism bias' in line with revised Treasury guidance issued in April 2003. Before then, only net scheme costs, exclusive of VAT, projected inflation and 'optimism bias' were reported at TPI entry.

This is why as stated in the footnote to the answer of 19 December 2005, the two sets of figures in the table are not directly comparable for the 43 schemes that entered the TPI prior to April 2003. For these schemes, about £0.6 billion (39 per cent.) of the £1.54 billion variance against the cost reported at TPI entry is attributable to the absence of VAT, projected inflation at 2.5 per cent. and 'optimism bias'. The remainder of the variance can be attributed to underestimates in the scope of schemes and the impact of inflation. Scheme budgets have assumed that construction inflation would run at 2.5 per cent. per year. The latest indications suggest that a higher allowance may be more appropriate and more research is under way in that area. As far as the Highways Agency is aware fraud has played no factor in any requirement for budget increases.

For the 39 schemes that entered the TPI since April 2003, the two sets of figures are directly comparable and only two schemes have approved budgets that have increased since TPI entry. These increases (£61 million) can be attributed to a combination of underestimates (£26 million) and higher construction inflation (£35 million). Again, none of these increases can be attributed to fraud.

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