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19 Feb 2007 : Column 367W—continued

Rail Services

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why some Virgin trains stop at Milton Keynes Central to drop off but not pick up. [118981]

Mr. Tom Harris: A morning peak hour service from the West Midlands, operated by Virgin West Coast Trains and provided mainly for passengers travelling through to London, makes a call at Milton Keynes Central. This decision was taken by Virgin Trains in order specifically to set down a number of regular commuters who travel from the West Midlands.

A late night journey making the same journey also calls to set down only in Milton Keynes (at 0014). This is because overnight, essential engineering work may prevent the regular operation of the service.

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 6 February 2007, Official Report, column 772W, on rail services, what the spare capacity is on Virgin Trains heading south through but not stopping at Milton Keynes Central during peak hours in the morning; and what the percentage spare capacity this equates to in terms of numbers of seats. [120679]

Mr. Tom Harris: The volume of spare capacity on each train passing through Milton Keynes station during peak hours will inevitably vary from day to day. At present, this may amount to no more than 30 seats in standard class and twice this amount in first class with business continuing to grow significantly.

Railway Network: Climate Change

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has made an assessment of the long-term effects of climate change on (a) road disintegration caused by heat and (b) the safety of rail tracks subjected to greater heat. [120540]

Dr. Ladyman: A Department for Transport (DfT) report in 2004 entitled “The Changing Climate: Impact on the Department for Transport” examined the
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impact of climate change on transport, including increased summer temperatures causing network disruption through rail buckling and structural failures. This is available on the DfT website.

The performance of the rail network, including its resilience to hot weather conditions, is an operational matter for Network Rail (NR), as the owner and operator of the national rail infrastructure. However the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) on behalf of the industry has carried out a range of research into the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on rail infrastructure, including an on-going project entitled “Implications of weather extremes and climate change on railway infrastructure”. Details of this research can be found on the RSSB website at

The Highways Agency (HA) have re-surfaced 30 per cent. of the trunk road network with deformation resisting material, and have recently introduced a deformation resistant base material into standards in order to combat temperature rise in future years. With regards to local authority roads, a project is currently under way between the Transport Research Laboratory and DfT entitled “Climate Change Impacts on Highway Maintenance”.

Railway Stations

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has received any representations on the future of (a) Sea Mills, (b) Shirehampton, (c) Avonmouth, (d) St. Andrews Road and (e) Severn Beach railway stations. [118945]

Mr. Tom Harris: I have not received any representations specifically about the future of those stations and the Department has not been involved in any discussions about their future.

Railway Stations: Access

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate he has made of the cost of establishing vehicle access barriers at all major train stations in England and Wales; [119600]

(2) what plans he has to install vehicle access barriers at public transport hubs; [119601]

(3) what representations he has received on the installation of vehicle access barriers at railway stations. [119602]

Mr. Tom Harris: A study is currently being undertaken by my officials into the practicability and costs of introducing vehicle restraint measures at railway stations. This follows vehicle access barriers being placed temporarily at two London stations, Waterloo and Victoria in June 2006, as part of a series of railway security measures. The current study is in collaboration with both Network Rail and London Underground who are conducting detailed engineering surveys of certain major railway stations. The results of the first three detailed surveys should be available in April 2007.

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Following the completion of this work an informed decision can be taken on whether vehicle restraint measures, for example road barriers on pavement bollards, might present a proportionate and practicable security measure for railway stations, and if so where they might be installed.

No representations have been received on the installation of vehicle access barriers at railway stations.

Railway Stations: Security Guards

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what checks are made on security guards working at train stations. [118329]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department requires nominated rail industry security contacts to be security vetted. We also require that the issue of full staff passes is subject to verification of the applicant’s identity and consideration of their previous five years employment history and references for that period.

In addition, the rail industry and its contractors are required to comply with the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, which requires employers to check that individuals are entitled to live and work in the UK. Any security contractors employed must also be licensed by the Security Industry Authority.

Railways: Fares

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many prosecutions there have been for fare evasion on the national rail network in each of the last 10 years. [118294]

Mr. Tom Harris: This information is not held centrally. It is a matter for individual train operating companies.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will assess the merits of the implementation of a cap on rail fare increases. [121004]

Mr. Tom Harris: There is already a cap on rail fare increases, wherever the fare in question is regulated. Regulated fares include fares used by commuters around London and other urban centres, and long distance Saver Return fares. Regulated fares are limited to an annual average increase of inflation+1 per cent., a policy that has operated since 2004. Unregulated fares may be set by operators on a commercial basis.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent advice he has given to rail companies on fare policies. [121005]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department for Transport does not give fare policy advice to rail companies. Rail Companies must set regulated fares in line with the fares regulation specified in each operator’s franchise agreement. Rail Companies may set unregulated fares as they see fit, on a commercial basis.

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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential effect of increases in rail fares on meeting carbon emission reduction targets. [121006]

Mr. Tom Harris: Environmental, effects were taken into account in arriving at the current policy for regulated rail fares. This policy limits average annual increases to inflation +1 per cent. In 2007, regulated fares remain on average 2 per cent. less in real terms than they were in 1996.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many representations he received on fare increases on train services in each of the last 12 months, broken down by region; and if he will make a statement. [121007]

Mr. Tom Harris: Various letters are received from members of the public about rail fares from time-to-time. However, it is not practicable to list or categorise them.

Railways: Milton Keynes

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what requirements exist in rail franchise agreements on the publication of information on trains that stop at stations, with particular reference to Virgin trains that stop at Milton Keynes station during peak periods to allow passengers to alight but not board. [119243]

Mr. Tom Harris: Virgin are required to publish booklets containing timetable changes and to publish details on their website, at least four weeks before any changes come into effect.

River Mersey: Passenger Ships

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the safety of passenger vessels on the River Mersey; and if he will make a statement. [120474]

Dr. Ladyman: Commercial passenger vessels on the River Mersey, as elsewhere, must comply with international or national safety standards and regulations as appropriate, including the rules for preventing collisions.

Marine surveyors from my Department's Maritime and Coastguard Agency regularly inspect all passenger vessels to check compliance with those standards and regulations, including the certification of the crew.

There are specific inspection regimes applying to all roll-on-roll-off passenger vessels and high speed craft operating ferry services within the European Community and the European Economic Area.

The Mersey has a Vessel Traffic Information Service that provides information to river users. Crossing manoeuvres on the Mersey are agreed between the masters of each vessel, which in the majority of cases have pilots on board or masters holding Pilotage Exemption Certificates.

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Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has received a report on the Seacat collision on the River Mersey on Saturday 2 February; and if he will make a statement. [120476]

Dr. Ladyman: I received a report from the Department’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). On Saturday 3 February there was a collision between two ships, the high speed ferry Sea Express 1 and the bulk carrier Alaska Rainbow. The Sea Express 1 had 294 passengers and a number of vehicles onboard and was bound for its berth at Liverpool Pier Head. The Alaska Rainbow had a cargo of steel and was inbound for Alfred Dock.

Following the collision the Sea Express 1 proceeded to its berth and all passengers disembarked safely. The Alaska Rainbow returned to a safe anchorage at sea.

Marine surveyors from the MCA observed that two compartments in the starboard pontoon of the Sea Express 1 had been flooded and a third compartment had a hole above the waterline.

On 5 February the Sea Express 1 was moved to the Wet Basin at Cammell Laird’s facility to await repairs following a formal direction given by the Secretary of State’s Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention. The Alaska Rainbow was subject to an MCA inspection in Birkenhead and was cleared to sail.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is investigating the causes of the accident.

Roads: Accidents

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport to what proportion of road traffic accidents the police called recovery vehicle services on (a) motorways and (b) all other roads in each of the last five years. [120752]

Dr. Ladyman: The information requested is not available.

Roads: Bingley

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people have yet to receive compensation payments agreed with his Department for the work carried out on the Bingley relief road; and when he expects outstanding payments to be made. [121463]

Dr. Ladyman: There are 262 outstanding agreed compensation payments to be made to those affected by the use of the A650 Bingley relief road. Of those, 245 are agreed part one compensation payments and it is expected that payment will be made within the next four months.

The remaining 17 cases will receive compensation for land and rights being acquired by compulsory purchase order. Payment for these is expected to be made within the next six months.

Roads: Chorley

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents involving (a) trains, (b) buses and (c) private hire vehicles there were in Chorley in each of the last five years. [118924]

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Gillian Merron: The information requested is given in the table. No information is available for private hire vehicles.

Number of accidents involving trains or buses in Chorley: 2001-05
Trains( 1) Buses( 2)
















(1 )Includes: Train accidents—collisions, derailments, trains running into obstructions and missile damage to drivers cab windscreens. Movement accidents—Injuries to people either struck by trains or injured on board trains.
(2 )Buses (include coaches) carrying 17 or more passengers involved in reported personal injury road accidents.

Roads: Lancashire

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of roads there are in Lancashire. [121217]

Dr. Ladyman: The total length of road in the area covered by Lancashire county council is 4,299 miles. This is the most recently available figure and is for 2005.

Roads: Lighting

Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many local authorities have contracts with their electricity supplier which allow unlimited use of electricity for street lighting at a fixed price; and what his policy is on such contracts. [121112]

Dr. Ladyman: This information is not held centrally. Local highway authorities decide on their own service level for street lighting based upon local circumstances. It is for each authority to consider which contractual arrangements are required to deliver that service level.

Most local authority street lighting energy in England is supplied on an unmetered basis, where authorities enter into a contract on a pre-determined price and usage structure. This is not the same as unlimited energy at a fixed price, but calculates the number of kilowatt-hours used on the basis of assumed average consumption per lamp.

The Department endorses “Well-lit Highways”, the code of practice on highway lighting management (December 2004, TSO) published by the UK Lighting Board, which provides guidance on the procurement of electricity.

Lorely Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the annual consumption of electricity for street lighting was for the latest available period. [121113]

Dr. Ladyman: Street lighting in England is the responsibility of local highway authorities in respect of local roads and the Highways Agency in respect of the trunk road network. The electricity supply for public lighting is not normally metered, but is based on notional lamp wattages and hours of use. The actual electricity consumption is therefore unknown.

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