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Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he is taking to improve the skills of employees in the transport sector; and what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on this subject; 
(4) what discussions he has had with (a) the leaders of transport sector employers and (b) the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on their capacity to (i) train and (ii) improve the skills of their work force. 
Gillian Merron: The Department for Transport is committed to valuing diversity and promoting equality. The Department facilitates the Womens Transport Network (WTN) to provide a forum for women to contribute to policy development in the transport field and to encourage women to enter and progress in the transport industries.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport from which rolling stock manufacturers new rail vehicles have been purchased in each of the last seven years, broken down into companies based in (a) the UK, (b) mainland Europe and (c) elsewhere. 
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for which stations his Department has specified a reduction in the number of stopping trains each day since Ministers took over responsibility for passenger rail franchising from the Strategic Rail Authority. 
Derek Twigg: Over the past 12 months since taking over responsibility for passenger rail franchising from the Strategic Rail Authority the Secretary of State for Transport has only specified the service at stations covered by the South Western Franchise. The Department has specified a minimum service level, outline details of which are found in the stakeholder briefing document available at www.dft.gov.uk. Bids for the replacement franchise are currently being prepared following the issue of the ITT on 31 March 2006. The contents of the ITT are confidential to bidders until the franchise is awarded later this year. The winning bidder will then develop the timetable.
Derek Twigg: Over the past 12 months the Secretary of State for Transport has only specified services at stations covered by the South Western Franchise. The Department has specified a minimum service level, outline details of which are found in the stakeholder briefing document available at www.dft.gov.uk. Bids for the replacement franchise are currently being prepared following the issue of the ITT on 31 March 2006. The contents of the ITT are confidential to bidders until the franchise is awarded later this year. The winning bidder will then develop the timetable.
Gillian Merron: All station operators, including those in rural areas, are required to meet the requirements of Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 with regard to access for disabled people. The Act requires them to take reasonable steps to ensure that disabled people do not find it impossible or
unreasonably difficult to access their services by removing or altering physical features, by finding a way to avoid them, or by providing the service by a reasonable alternative means. This may be done by making physical alterations to stations or taking such other action as is reasonable for any particular station. Operators are responding to these duties. Currently over half of railway journeys originate from step-free stations.
We do, however, recognise that further work at stations may be needed in some cases to make the railway system accessible to disabled people. We published the railways for all strategy on 23 March which includes details of how the £370 million access for all funding will be targeted to deliver access improvements at stations over the next 10 years.
We have also made available an additional £7 million a year that train operators, local authorities and other third parties can bid for on a match funding basis to make smaller scale accessibility improvements at stations, including rural stations.
We are also taking steps to ensure rail vehicles are accessible to disabled people and the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 require that all new passenger rolling stock introduced from 1 January 1999 is accessible to disabled people. Over 4,500 rail vehicles which meet the requirements of those regulations have already been introduced and from no later than 1 January 2020 all rail vehicles will have to comply.
Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 16 March 2006, Official Report, column 2403W on railways, whether (a) he and (b) other Ministers in his Department attended Northern Night at the 2005 Labour party conference. 
Dr. Ladyman: There are no current applications to the Secretary of State for the confirmation of road pricing (charging) schemes. The Secretary of State cannot pre-judge any applications that might be made to him in the future, and he has not done so.
Dr. Ladyman: No decisions have been taken on what the balance of central Government contributions to local contributions might be in the case of the road pricing elements of TIF schemes. This will depend on what proposals are put forward by local authorities.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether motorists participating in the proposed road pricing pilot will be entitled to a fuel duty rebate; and how differential petrol prices will apply to those (a) in and (b) not participating in the pilot; 
Dr. Ladyman: We expect local authorities to work closely with the Highways Agency as they develop proposals for road pricing schemes. Should this result in proposals for pricing on the trunk road network these will be considered on their merits. The Secretary of State cannot pre-judge any decision that he may be called upon to make in the future and has not done so.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 6 February 2006, Official Report, column 801W, on the Rotherwas Access Road, when a decision will be announced on the Rotherwas Access Road. 
Gillian Merron: The Department is currently considering Herefordshires business case for this scheme alongside the West Midland regions advice on its priorities for major transport schemes within the indicative regional funding allocations announced in July 2005. The Department expects to announce our response later this year.
(3) what initiatives his Department has undertaken to encourage (a) passenger transport executives and (b) local authorities to develop innovative systems of transportation of school children; and what funding he has allocated for this purpose for 2006-07; 
Gillian Merron: The Department has set out our plans for promoting safer, more sustainable travel to school and our expectations of local authorities in Travelling to School: an action plan which we published jointly with the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) in September 2003.
The Department is not planning a national roll out of dedicated school buses, but we want to encourage individual local authorities and Passenger Transport Executives to consider school bus schemes as part of broader local transport planning and decide if they would be appropriate to their area. The Department knows from our earlier evaluation of various small-scale yellow and other dedicated school bus schemes that well-designed schemes have the potential to reduce car dependency for journeys to school and the traffic congestion that results from this. But care also needs to be taken to ensure that they are appropriate to local circumstances and do not reduce levels of walking or cycling or undermine the viability of important bus services available to the wider public.
The Department is providing £18.7 million over the next three years to purchase 150 dedicated buses for West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executives MyBus school bus scheme. The evaluation of this scheme should be completed next year but the initial signs are that there has been some impact in reducing the number of children travelling to school by car and other non-transport benefits have also been reported.
The Education and Inspections Bill includes provisions to improve home to school transport, including enabling a small number of local authorities to propose Pathfinder schemes to test innovative approaches to home to school transport. These schemes would support school choice, and increase the proportion travelling by sustainable means.
DfES has policy responsibility for home to school transport and will be talking to local authorities interested in running Pathfinder schemes, including passenger transport executives where relevant, later this year. Formal expressions of interest will only be sought after the Bill has been enacted, and formal consultation on the Pathfinder guidance and prospectus has taken place. DfES will support schemes, which it anticipates will start in September 2009, with £4 million pump priming and annual revenue support building up over several years to £12 million.
Gillian Merron: The Department for Transport promotes the health benefits of more walking and cycling through its initiatives to encourage more sustainable travel and through publications, such as walk in to work out.
As the programme of work develops the Department of Health will be working across all of Government to ensure the programme joins up to promote maximum impact. DH is leading the implementation for this initiative as part of its cross-Government commitment to deliver the public health White Paper Choosing Health.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been paid in (a) salary, (b) travelling expenses, (c) subsistence allowance and (d) removal expenses to special advisers in his private office in each of the last five years. 
Gillian Merron: In respect of (a) since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the names and overall cost of special advisers and the number in each payband. For information relating to the last financial year I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, on 21 July 2005 Official Report, columns 158-61WS.
|Financial Year||Travel and Subsistence (£)|
The amount spent on travel and subsistence in 2005-06 is higher than in previous years, largely as a consequence of travel required due to the UK's Presidency of the European Union between July and December 2005.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many telephone advice lines his Department and its non-departmental public bodies support; and how many telephone advisers each employs; and how much funding is provided by (a) his Department and its non-departmental public bodies, (b) other Government Departments, (c) the private sector and (d) the voluntary sector. 
MAVIS information line
National number for the UK Forum of Mobility Centres
Blue Badge Enquiry Line
Identifying the specific costs associated with these lines would incur disproportionate costmany staff involved are not solely employed as telephone advisors. Funding for the agencies and NDPBs advice lines come from both the DfT and the private sector.
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