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TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Strategy for Sustainable Construction Report

The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Alun Michael): I am today launching a consultation process on the Government's draft "Strategy for Sustainable Construction Report 2006". The strategy is an update of the existing "Building a Better Quality of Life" produced by the then DETR, and focuses on the principle of sustainable development to which the Government as a whole are signed up.

The purpose of updating the strategy is to provide a framework to guide future progress within the construction industry. I expect the review to be complete and published by summer 2006 and I shall inform the House of the outcome.
 
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TRANSPORT

Brighton Main Line Route

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Derek Twigg): Today the Department for Transport has published the Route Utilisation Strategy for the Brighton main line. This Strategy has been designed to improve the journey experience for the majority of the users of this busy and important route by delivering improved punctuality and more seats at peak times. This will be achieved through a re-timetabling exercise that will exploit the capability of the network to its fullest extent. I have placed a copy of the strategy in the House Library.

Route Utilisation Strategies take a strategic look at the rail network and its timetable. They outline plans to improve timetables to ensure the best use is made of the current rail network and to ensure that services meet current and future demands. This particular strategy was the last to be initiated by the Strategic Rail Authority. Strategies for other parts of the network are being developed by Network Rail.

The strategy published today confirms proposals for Brighton main line services up to 2012. It builds on the work undertaken by the SRA and takes account of the responses it received to its consultation. In particular it takes account of concerns raised by BAA and airline companies about the Gatwick Express service.

The concept of a fast, frequent service between Gatwick and Victoria will remain, although it will be necessary for those trains to serve additional stations. This will still constitute a high-quality service geared towards airline travellers, and in addition most Sussex coast trains will also serve the airport.

Further proposals will bring benefits to passengers elsewhere on the route. Punctuality and journey times will be improved by simplifying train movements, and crowding will be eased through the introduction of longer trains and additional stops at the busiest stations.

One of the proposed improvements has already been introduced; a direct Brighton to Ashford service now links coastal towns with the Brighton main line and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Commercial negotiations with the relevant train operators, to facilitate the proposed changes, have already begun. Network Rail will lead on the implementation of the specific timetable proposals.

Thirty two thousand commuters use the Brighton main line each day. This strategy will build on improvements already made—including the introduction of over 700 new carriages in the last three years—through the provision of an additional 1,280 seats in each of the busiest commuting hours. I am confident that together these changes will deliver real improvements for all rail travellers whether they are travelling for work or for leisure.