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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 31 January 2006


Concessionary Travel

Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether local authorities running alternative concessionary travel token schemes will be required to discontinue such schemes under the free bus pass scheme. [46247]

Ms Buck: No. As now, a person entitled to the statutory minimum can agree to give up that entitlement and accept an alternative concessionary fare scheme instead (e.g. tokens). They would then forego their entitlement to the statutory minimum for an agreed period. However, they must have the option to choose the statutory minimum.

Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of whether local authorities will discontinue concessionary travel token schemes other than the free bus pass scheme to fund the free bus pass scheme. [46253]

Ms Buck: None. However, the Department for Transport will be monitoring the introduction of the improvement in the statutory minimum, including the impacts on local schemes.

Cross-country Rail Links

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to improve cross-country rail links between the East and West Coast main lines. [46685]

Derek Twigg: The Trans-Pennine Express (TPE) franchise was specifically created to improve the links between the major cities of Yorkshire and the North East England and those in the North West. 51 new three-car diesel units will be delivered and phased into service by TPE during 2006 to enhance the quality of these links.


Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the conclusions are of the most recent assessment carried out by or commissioned by his Department on the feasibility and viability of the Crossrail project; and if he will make a statement. [46691]

Derek Twigg: In 2003, the Department commissioned Sir Adrian Montague to review the business case for Crossrail. His report was published in July 2004 and is available on DfT's website at www.dft.gov.uk

The Department subsequently worked closely with Cross London Rail Links Limited (CLRLL)—the company held jointly by the Department and TfL to
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take forward the development of Crossrail—to refine the scheme in preparation for the deposit of the Crossrail hybrid Bill in February 2005.

The Crossrail environmental statement (ES) and its accompanying technical reports, which were published alongside the Bill, set out the refined scheme in detail, how it would be constructed, and how it would be operated. It can be found at www.Crossrail.co.uk.

CLRLL has also published a revised economic appraisal of Crossrail taking into account the changes adopted as a result of Sir Adrian Montague's review, as well as changes to the DfT appraisal guidance. It can also be found at www.Crossrail.co.uk.

Free Bus Travel

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will extend off-peak free bus travel on weekdays, at weekends and on bank holidays to those under the age of 16 years. [45695]

Ms Buck: It is already open to individual local authorities to offer concessionary bus travel to those under 16. There are no plans at present to make such provision statutory.

Greater Western Franchise

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the passenger revenue for the Greater Western franchise was for each of the last five years, broken down by rail operator. [42159]

Derek Twigg: Franchise agreements do not normally require operators to provide passenger revenue figures as a matter of routine. Where operators do provide these figures, they do so on a commercially confidential basis.


Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the M1 motorway was closed on Monday 16 January in the vicinity of junction 28; upon whose authority the closure took place; why the closure was deemed necessary; and if he will make a statement. [46695]

Dr. Ladyman: At approximately 12:45 hours on Monday 16 January 2006, Derbyshire police firearms response team were called to attend a potentially serious incident on the M1 motorway, adjacent to the northbound off slip road at junction 29.

For reasons of safety to road users, the Derbyshire police closed the northbound carriageway of the M1 at junction 28 and traffic was prevented from entering the motorway.

The southbound carriageway of the M1 between junctions 28 to 30 was also closed by Derbyshire police, with the agreement of South Yorkshire police, at approximately 13.30 hours.

After investigating the incident and finding there was no cause for concern, the police reopened both carriageways and slip roads of the M1 at 14.15 hours.
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Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he next expects the M181 motorway to be resurfaced. [46696]

Dr. Ladyman: The Highways Agency currently has no resurfacing works programmed for M181. However, the Agency will be undertaking a study of the M181 road surface; depending on the findings of this study, resurfacing on parts of this route may be carried out within the next three years. Localised repairs are expected to be undertaken sooner to ensure user safety.

The strategic road network is maintained in a safe and serviceable condition on a whole life cost principle, identifying the appropriate maintenance treatment at the optimum intervention time.

Ministerial Visits

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many times he has visited (a) Dacorum and (b) Hertfordshire in his official capacity in the last 12 months; and what the purpose was of each visit. [29924]

Ms Buck: The Secretary of State has not made any visits to (a) Dacorum or (b) Hertfordshire in his official capacity since November 2004.

Private Aircraft

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Chicago Convention requires private aircraft operators to request permission from the Government to land in the UK. [45976]

Ms Buck: The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation sets out the rights and obligations that apply to contracting states. Article 5 of the Convention provides that non-commercial, privately operated aircraft may fly into, transit across and stop in other states' territories for non-traffic purposes (such as for refuelling) without requiring prior permission.


Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet hon. Members from the north east to discuss (a) the Northern Rail franchise and (b) the north east England rail regional planning assessment. [45535]

Derek Twigg: I should be happy to arrange a meeting.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what safety provision is available for rail users at each rail station in Hampshire; what the times are of the first and last train at each station; at what times there is no staff cover at each station; at which stations security guards are located; what the name is of the lead train operating company in each case; and what improvement plans there are for (a) 2005–06 and (b) 2006–07. [47253]

Derek Twigg: These are matters for the train operator responsible for the station concerned. All stations in Hampshire are operated by South West Trains except the following:
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Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of (a) Network Rail and (b) the British Transport police in preventing trespassing onto railway lines (i) in England and (ii) in West Lancashire constituency; and what further steps are planned. [45013]

Derek Twigg: Primary responsibility for preventing trespass on the national rail network lies with Network Rail, who work closely with the British Transport police, others in the rail industry and the wider community.

I have asked Network Rail to write directly to my hon. Friend about work to prevent trespassing on the network in West Lancashire.

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account he has taken of projected increases in rail passenger kilometres travelled when (a) allocating funding for (i) subsidies and (ii) rolling stock and (b) awarding franchises. [45355]

Derek Twigg: Invitations to tender for replacement franchises include an estimate of growth in passenger kilometres in the franchise area. Bidders are expected to take account of this when submitting their bids by specifying the rolling stock needed to deal with expected passenger numbers. Their proposals, and the resulting subsidy or premium profile, are taken into account in awarding the franchise.

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