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Public Transport

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the overall percentage rise in train ticket prices has been in Essex in the last 10 years. [109762]

Mr. Tom Harris: Figures are not available by county. However, fares for London and Southeast operators rose by 2 per cent. in real terms between 1995 and 2006. If only standard class fares are considered, the increase was 1.7 per cent. This includes a 3.4 per cent. decrease in regulated commuter fares.

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many increases in train ticket prices there were in Essex in each of the last 10 years. [109763]

Mr. Tom Harris: There will have been one major change in fares each year, although small adjustments may have been made at the June and September fares- setting rounds in each year.

Rail Fares

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the price range was of a (a) 1(st) class, (b) 2(nd) class and (c) sleeper return train ticket between London and Edinburgh in each year since 1997; and what the rail subsidy from the public purse was in each year. [108372]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department for Transport does not hold fares information for every year between 1997 to 2006. However, fares in 1996 are given in the following table:

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Cheapest Most expensive

Daytime trains:

1(st) class one way



1(st) class return



2(nd) class one way



2(nd) class return




1(st) class one way



1(st) class return



2(nd) class one way



2(nd) class return



Fares for travel in 2006 may be found at, or (for Caledonian Sleeper bargain berth fares) at Inflation was approximately 17.3 per cent. over this period. Subsidy is not attributable to individual fares or journeys.

Rail Links

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for a direct rail link between Shropshire and London; and if he will make a statement. [109827]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department for Transport has no plans to add a direct rail service between Shropshire and London to any rail franchise. However an open access operator, The Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company (WSMR) has applied to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for track access rights for a new service between Wrexham and London Marylebone via Shrewsbury, which they hope to introduce in 2007.

Railway Stations

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many unmanned railway stations there are. [108914]

Mr. Tom Harris: According to the records of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) 1,187 stations are unmanned Monday to Saturday and 1,649 on Sundays.

Railways: Fatalities

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the change in the numbers of public accidental fatalities on the railways since 2004. [110098]

Mr. Tom Harris: Details on the number of fatalities for 2004 and 2005 are in the annual reports on railway safety, produced for 2004 by the Health and Safety Executive and for 2005 by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). Copies are in the House Library. The report for 2006 is expected to be published by ORR in mid-2007.

Retirement Age

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, columns 189-90W, on the
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retirement age, what his Department’s policy is on the application of the national default retirement age to staff below the Senior Civil Service. [109544]

Gillian Merron: The Department for Transport has a default retirement age of 65 for staff below the senior civil service. Employees have the right to request to work beyond the default retirement age and all applications will be carefully considered.

Secure Stations

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many stations with secure station status have had their designation removed since 1 December 2004; and which stations have been designated under the scheme since that date. [112660]

Mr. Tom Harris: Since 1 December 2004, a total of 410 rail stations have been accredited under the secure stations scheme. Of this total, 230 are first time accreditations and 180 are re-accreditations. No stations have had their secure status withdrawn since the launch of the scheme in 1998.

A list of the accredited and re-accredited stations since 1 December 2004 has been placed in the Library of the House.

Traffic: Peterborough

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the report and dataon traffic movements in Peterborough prepared by English Partnerships to be published; and if he will make a statement. [109784]

Dr. Ladyman: We have not commissioned such a report. Publication is a matter for English Partnerships.

Train Cancellations

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many trains were cancelled because of vandalism on the tracks (a) in each region and (b) by each train operating company in each year since 1997. [104412]

Mr. Tom Harris: Train cancellation data for the Rail Network as a whole are collected and processed by Network Rail. The information requested is not held by the Department.

Train Overcrowding

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what arrangements are in place to monitor the performance against targets of train operating companies with regard to their management of over-crowding on (a) all weekend services and (b) weekend (i) intercity and (ii) cross-country services. [109254]

Mr. Tom Harris: Franchise agreements allow the Department for Transport to monitor actual passenger demand.

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The franchise agreements require the franchise operator to draw up plans that demonstrate how they will allocate rolling stock to meet passenger demand and includes mechanisms which penalise the train operator if they fail to deliver the capacity stated in the plan.

Franchise agreements also include an obligation to plan the timetable to ensure, so far as possible, that overcrowding is not unduly concentrated on any particular route or passenger service.

Train Timetables

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to dissuade train operating companies from rescheduling timetables so as to reduce calls by peak-time commuter trains at rural or non-urban stations; and what assessment he has made of the effect on the volume of road traffic of such changes to timetables. [109253]

Mr. Tom Harris: The franchise agreements between the Secretary of State for Transport and each franchised train operator specify the number of services the operator is to provide and the stations at which these services are to call. The franchise agreement also specifies peak-time services wherethere is a need to provide journey to work/school opportunities at rural or non-urban stations.

International Development


Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what effect the security environment in Afghanistan is having on his Department’s operations in the country; and if he will make a statement. [104856]

Hilary Benn: The security situation across much of Afghanistan is broadly stable. However in the south, particularly in the provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, Government of Afghanistan authority and the rule of law have not yet been established. As a consequence the security situation is much more fragile.

In much of the country, therefore, security is not the primary constraint to development. However in the south, poor security does present difficulties for delivering development, particular for the agencies which donors and the Government of Afghanistan employ to implement their programmes. The ability of those agencies to operate is constrained by concerns about the security of their staff.

Despite the security constraints in Helmand, the UK has committed about $9 million to over 80 quick impact projects in that province, and will see the start very soon of the construction of 200 wells and49 kilometres of road in an around Lashkar Gah, under the DFID funded Helmand Agricultural and Rural Development Programme.

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Afghanistan remains one of the most fragile of states in which DFID works, but it is also one of the poorest countries in the world. Although in most of the country security is adequate for development to take place, that is not uniform across the country. We are working closely with others in the UK and with international partners to ensure that both security and development in those areas can improve.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to improve the status of women in Afghanistan. [105055]

Hilary Benn: Improving the status of women will be vital to achieving the Government of Afghanistan’s development objectives. DFID’s programme is helping to improve the status of women in a number of ways.

DFID is supporting a five year Women’s Empowerment programme, implemented by Womankind, through our Civil Society Challenge Fund. This £500,000 initiative is focused on promoting women’s equal participation in governance; building awareness of women’s rights among civil society and policy makers; and on providing educational, health, community and psycho-social support to those women affected by violence and conflict.

DFID provided significant support to the Government of Afghanistan to help ensure women fully participated in the election process in 2005. Workshops took place to enable women to help shape their new constitution and to educate the women about the election and voting process. 43 per cent. of the total voters were women. Currently a quarter of MPs in Parliament are women.

DFID has provided £20 million to the Micro-Finance and Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA). This provides micro credit loans to over 234,000 beneficiaries across 20 provinces. Over 70 per cent. of these beneficiaries are currently women, giving them the opportunity to develop their own economic opportunities. MISFA plans to expand to all 34 provinces by the end of 2007.

DFID has provided £17 million to the Afghan Government’s National Solidarity Programme (NSP). This programme has led to the creation of 15,103 Community Development Councils (CDCs). Under this programme, DFID is pressing for more effort tobe placed on improving women’s participation in the councils. Female-only CDCs have already been established and have become fora for discussion on issues that women could not previously discuss openly in mixed gender CDCs (e.g. on health, domestic violence and literacy).

The UK also continues to work with the Afghan Government to ensure gender is fully addressed and integrated into the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, which will provide the framework for development over the next five years.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the level of violence against women in Afghanistan; [105056]

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(2) what estimate he has made of the number of wives in Afghanistan treated as slave workers. [105064]

Hilary Benn: DFID has not made any formal assessment of the level of violence against women in Afghanistan, nor estimated the number of wives treated at slave workers.

However, Womankind, an organisation which DFID supports through the Civil Society Challenge Fund, published a report in October 2006 called Taking Stock Update: Afghan Women and Girls Five Years On'. This research report, which was recently launched at an event in the House of Commons, looks at progress made in line with international and national law. The report covers violence against women (domestic abuse and violence in the community). It identifies progress but more importantly the areas of concern and the security challenges. The report is available at the Womankind website at:

I will also ensure that copies are placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 21 November 2006, Official Report, column 23W, on Afghanistan, what his latest assessment is of the effect of violence and intimidation on school attendance rates across Afghanistan in 2006; and if he will make a statement. [106763]

Hilary Benn: As stated in the answer of 21 November, UNICEF reports that the number of children in school increased from 1.2 million in March 2002, to 5.1 million in December 2005.

As DFID does not provide direct assistance tothe education sector, we have not made a detailed assessment of the effect of violence and intimidation on school attendance. However, according to a recent report from Human Rights Watch: ‘Lessons in Terror: Attacks on Education in Afghanistan’, the majority of children of primary school age remain out of school, and many children in rural areas have no access to schools. The report cites the main reasons for this as:

Despite the improvements, the effects of violence and intimidation on enrolment rates and attendance are deeply worrying, particularly for girls. The problem is particularly acute in the areas where security is poor. The UK is working to improve security in Afghanistan, particularly in the south, and in so doing providea better enabling environment for development, including education, to take place.

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