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Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the impact of the increase in estimated costs of the Crossrail project on funding available for infrastructure upgrading, maintenance and development in other parts of the country; and if he will make a statement. 
[holding answer 14 February 2006]: The estimated cost of the Crossrail project remains as set out in the Parliamentary Estimate of Expense accompanying the Crossrail hybrid Bill. The Government will continue to invest significant resources in the rail network.
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Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the impact of extending the Crossrail project between Reading and Ebbsfleet rather than between Shenfield and Abbey Wood; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 14 February 2006]: The Department for Transport has considered the Crossrail scheme in conjunction with Cross London Rail Links Ltd. (CLRL), the company taking forward the development of Crossrail. CLRL has examined the scope for serving Ebbsfleet and Reading. Their work shows that, in order to serve Ebbsfleet, Crossrail services would need to share tracks with other rail services on the North Kent Line between Abbey Wood and Ebbsfleet. This would involve complex scheduling with an unacceptable risk of disruption to Crossrail's planned high-frequency service pattern. In the case of Reading, significant additional costs and risks would be involved, including line electrification and associated bridge raising. As a result, neither extension was included in the route put forward in the Crossrail hybrid Bill.
My right hon. Friend recognises, however, that such extensions may fall to be reconsidered at some future date and has therefore agreed to safeguard the extension to Ebbsfleet and to consider revisions to the safeguarding Direction in due course; and he is also considering safeguarding the extension to Reading.
Derek Twigg: Approx £6 million is included in the Olympic transport budget for cycling measures supporting the 2012 Olympic games. This includes about 5Okms of new cycle lanes to connect the London cycling network up to the Olympic venues. This is funded from the £2.375 billion public sector funding package for the Olympics rather than any specific departmental budget.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent on entertainment by his Department in 200405; and how of this sum is accounted for by (a) food, (b) alcohol, (c) staff and (d) accommodation. 
Ms Buck: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I have given today to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Ir (Mr. MacNeil). The costs of (a) food, (b) alcohol, (c) staff and (d) accommodation are not recorded separately and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Ms Buck: The pay of staff within the senior civil service includes a mixture of consolidated base pay awards and non-consolidated bonuses both of which are linked to individual performance and delivery.
For staff outside the senior civil service it is a requirement of pay delegation that reward systems must reflect a close and effective link between pay and performance. This is applicable to all staff and applied within the Department for Transport.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many departmental employees have taken early retirement due to ill-health in each of the past five years for which figures are available. 
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made of the likely change in bus and Metrolink passenger numbers in the county of Greater Manchester resulting from the introduction of free off-peak travel for pensioners. 
Ms Buck: The Government's initial estimate is that between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007, bus patronage in England will grow by 5.6 per cent. This has not been disaggregated to individual local authority or Passenger Transport Executives. The estimate does not include tram patronage, as this is not part of the statutory minimum entitlement. Any extension to tram services is at the discretion of the local authority based on their judgment of local needs and their overall financial priorities.
Figures relating to two methods of measuring fuel efficiency and the annual change in those figures, are set out in the following table. From 1997 until 2000, the percentage changes in new car fuel efficiency are based on data collected by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). From 2001, the calculations are based new car emissions data collected by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
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|Average miles per gallon (MPG)||MPG percentage improvement||Average carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions (g/km)||CO 2 percentage improvement||Diesel car penetration|
Diesel fuel contains more carbon per litre than petrol. Thus the increase in diesel car sales over the later periods leads to a greater rate of improvement in MPG (fuel efficiency) than in the more commonly reported measure of grammes per kilometre CO 2 .
Derek Twigg: The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has determined, the outputs that Network Rail must deliver in the five-year control period to March 2009, and the associated revenue allowance. This revenue allowance is based on estimates of the expenditure required by a competent and well-managed company to deliver the stated outputs, including an allowance for efficiency savings. As part of this, Network Rail must deliver an efficiency saving of 31 per cent.
This approach provides strong incentives on Network Rail to improve cost efficiency, as they benefit from reducing expenditure below that assumed in setting its allowed revenues, provided that it delivers its required outputs and does not compromise long-term asset condition and serviceability of the network.
The main incentive on Network Rail to complete its renewals expeditiously are the conditions of the track access contracts that it enters into with train operating companies. These contracts include a mechanism whereby Network Rail makes compensation payments to train operating companies for changes to train timetables that result from the need for engineering works.
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