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London and Continental Railways

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the Ministers and officials involved in discussions on the possible takeover of London and Continental Railways between the date that Adrian Montague's first approach was made to his Department and the first public statement by the Department about the possible takeover. [62446]

Derek Twigg: Various Ministers and Officials have regular discussions on such matters relating to the Channel Tunnel Rail Link as may be relevant at the time.

Penalty Fares

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to increase penalty fares on public transport. [62692]

Derek Twigg: The details of penalty fare regimes vary across modes and between different operators. For those schemes where the penalty fare is set centrally by Government, the minimum fine was raised from £10 to £20 in 2005. We keep penalty fare levels under review and continue to assist operators where necessary in drawing up their revenue protection strategies.
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Pensioner Travel

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the arrangement for free bus travel for pensioners from 2008 will include arrangements for pensioners in border areas to travel into Scotland. [62694]

Dr. Ladyman: The Government will be looking at the detailed arrangements closely, and discuss with devolved Administrations this issue ahead of the 2008 introduction date.


Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on proposals for a new container port in the United Kingdom; and what estimate he has made of the likely cost. [63270]

Dr. Ladyman: Earlier this year the Department approved container terminal developments at Bathside Bay, Harwich, and at Felixstowe. We are aware of three further proposals for significant container port expansion which are at differing stages of the decision-making process. The Under-Secretary of State for Transport my hon. Friend the Member for Halton (Derek Twigg) also indicated that he was minded to approve the London Gateway proposal; an application for expansion at the Seaforth Terminal on the Mersey will be considered at a public inquiry later this month, and the Department has been given formal notice of an intended application by PD Teesport for their Northern Gateway project.

Port expansion is funded exclusively from private sector sources and we have made no estimate of the costs.

Priority Bus Lanes

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of priority bus lanes have been created in each year since 1997 (a) in total and (b) broken down by local authority area. [61742]

Dr. Ladyman: A table showing the mileages of priority bus lanes created in England in each year since the financial year 2001–02 has been placed in the House Library. Estimates are not available for years prior to 2001–02.

Public Transport

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what measures the Department takes to ensure that (a) bus companies and (b) train companies provide important public transport services on routes which are not financially profitable; [59922]

(2) what measures the Department takes to provide rural areas with affordable public transport when the services provided by local companies are limited. [59923]

Dr. Ladyman: There are a number of mechanisms to ensure that bus and train services are provided on routes that are not financially profitable.

Subsidy of non-commercial bus services is provided primarily through local authorities who have the best understanding of local travel needs and the level of bus services required.
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However, since 1998 nearly £450 million has been allocated by this Department to local authorities specifically for the support of rural bus services. The main element of this is Rural Bus Subsidy Grant which will provide £54.3 million in 2006–07 and which supports some 2000 services.

Last year we announced "Kickstart" support, totalling £20 million, for 43 projects involving new and improved bus services which will become viable through growth in passenger numbers after an initial period of pump-priming from Government funds. 11 of these schemes will serve areas which are mainly rural in character.

Demand-responsive, flexibly routed and community transport services have a particularly significant role to play in rural areas. We have encouraged their development in particular by Rural Bus Challenge competitions held from 1998 to 2003, which have supported some 300 rural transport projects. In addition, many rural community transport services have since 2002 been eligible to receive Bus Service Operators Grant and regulations were introduced in 2004 to enable flexibly routed bus services to be registered with the Traffic Commissioner.

We are expecting all local transport authorities to include accessibility strategies in their next Local Transport Plans. Our guidance to authorities makes clear that the strategies should take account of the particular needs of rural communities.

From 1 April this year people aged 60 and over and disabled people in rural and urban areas alike are entitled to free off-peak bus travel within their local authority boundary.

For rail services these are either directly supported by the Department or through Passenger Transport Executives, Transport for London and the Scottish Executive. Some £5.8 billion of Government funds will be spent on the railway in 2006–07.

The Government's Community Rail Development Strategy seeks to improve the value of local and rural rail services to the taxpayer and the communities they serve. This pragmatic approach includes greater flexibility in the setting of fares and timetables to ensure that the resources available for running the service are used as effectively as possible. Part of the strategy involves forging closer links between the community and the railway through community rail partnerships (or rail development companies) that bring together local stakeholders and the railway to jointly develop services.

Rail Security

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the (a) cost and (b) practicality of implementation of extending security screening arrangements to mainline railway stations. [63246]

Derek Twigg: A trial of a millimetre wave body scanner took place at Paddington station in January and February. This is the first in a series of trials of different
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screening technologies and techniques on the national railway and London Underground networks that the Secretary of State announced on 2 November 2005.

The objective of the trials is to assess the capabilities of existing screening technologies and procedures in railway environments where conditions are very different from those in an airport terminal building.

An assessment of the costs and practicalities of the screening technology and procedures trialled at Paddington is under way, and will also be carried out in respect of the forthcoming trials. We will announce our findings once all the trials have been completed later this year.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to open new commuter services on railway lines that are solely used for freight. [61209]

Derek Twigg: There are no committed schemes to introduce passenger services on any existing freight-only railways at present.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many stations have been (a) opened and (b) closed on the rail network in each year since 1997; and what the reason was in each case. [62634]

Derek Twigg: 39 stations have been opened since 1997 as follows:
Number of stations opened

Four stations have been closed since 1997 and 13 stations have been replaced by either: light rail, tram, or a station in a new location.

The four stations which have been closed are:

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