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Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions his Department has had with the East of England Regional Assembly on the upgrade of the east coast mainline; and if he will make a statement. 
The Government will set out the high level outputs they will be seeking from Network Rail on the east coast main line in its high level output specification (HLOS) document to be issued in the summer. In this it will take into account Network Rail's draft east coast main line route utilisation strategy, which is expected to be issued in May or June of this year.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account the inquiry into the grounding of the MSC Napoli is taking of the implications of the different (a) languages spoken and (b) maritime backgrounds of the crew of the vessel for safety of its operation. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to evaluate the new east-west rail routes across East Anglia from the east midlands; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The Department is not aware of any proposals for new east-west rail routes across East Anglia from the east Midlands. The Department is currently working with Network Rail on the detailed case for Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) funding for the Peterborough to Nuneaton rail freight gauge and capacity enhancement scheme. In conjunction with the separate scheme to gauge clear the route between Ipswich and Peterborough, this scheme would complete a second route between the port of Felixstowe and the west coast main line gauge cleared for 9' 6 containers.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what basis his Department determined the level of train services required in Service Level Commitment 2 for the Greater Western Franchise relating to services to Twyford, Maidenhead and the Henley and Bourne End branch lines. 
Mr. Tom Harris: To determine the train service requirement for the Greater Western franchise the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), starting from the 2004 timetable, identified potential service pattern changes to improve operational performance and efficiency, and to maximise the opportunities from merging the then existing franchises. A range of options was linked to service pattern changes to meet the franchise objectives, and these were amalgamated to determine the most appropriate specification.
The franchise specification was then developed by testing and developing options in the outline and detailed specification phases. Technical Advisers supporting the SRA investigated an initial package of options that were informed by the general, franchise and service group objectives which were developed and agreed at the beginning of the process. Network Rail supported the process through timetabling analysis.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which (a) passenger groups, (b) user representatives and (c) other bodies were consulted on the content of Service Level Commitment 2 for the Greater Western Franchise prior to finalising that document. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The Strategic Rail Authority initiated stakeholder consultation on the Great Western franchise in June 2005. The Department for Transport published a report on the consultation on 6 October 2005, and the report is available on the Departments website.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of passenger numbers using (a) individual train services and (b) individual stations on the services run by FGW Link prior to finalising Service Level Commitment 2 for the Greater Western Franchise. 
Mr. Tom Harris: As a basis for determining the train service specification for the Greater Western Franchise on routes formerly served by FGW Link, the Strategic Rail Authority established passenger loads on all weekday services arriving at London Paddington between 7 am and 10 am, and departing from London Paddington between 4 pm and 7 pm in November 2003.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions were held between his Department and FGW following representations on the December 2006 timetable for services (a) to Maidenhead and Twyford and (b) on the Henley and Bourne End branch lines; and what changes to the proposed services were considered as a result. 
Mr. Tom Harris: First Great Western (FGW) carried out a public consultation on its proposed December 2006 timetable in February and March 2006. Following this, the Secretary of State and FGW held discussions about changes to the timetable and consequential amendments to the train service specification in response to the summary of representations prepared by FGW.
FGW also informed the Secretary of State of the changes it was planning to make to the timetable on 15 January 2007 and the further changes which it is considering making with effect from 20 May 2007.
Mr. Tom Harris: The Department for Transport recognises the success of the rail industry in attracting new passengers. There are a number of activities currently under way to quantify future demand in the Yorkshire and Humber region and to deliver a level of service that meets this. The Department is currently producing a regional planning assessment for the region, which will identify the role that the railway needs to play over the next 20 years in supporting the economic growth of the region. At the same time, Network Rail is producing a route utilisation strategy for Yorkshire and Humber, which will focus on improvements that can be made to the existing railway to provide an optimal level of service and capacity.
In addition to this, the Department is currently producing its high level output specification, which will set out the Department's objectives for the national rail network during the next industry funding period between 2009 and 2014. One of the key issues to be addressed in this period is the provision of sufficient capacity to meet future growth projections for rail travel.
In addition to these longer term activities, the department works closely with current train operators and other local stakeholders to identify and secure value for money opportunities to provide additional capacity. The introduction by Transpennine Express of its new class 185 fleet has expanded a number of services to three car operation as well as providing local passengers with an improved environment on their services. The Department has also worked closely with Northern Rail and West Yorkshire passenger transport executive to secure an additional six class 158 trains for services in west Yorkshire to address passenger growth in this area.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will undertake research to estimate the number of voluntary workers who would be affected by the introduction of road pricing; 
Dr. Ladyman: The impact of any scheme will depend upon its detailed design. No decision has yet been made on national road pricing, and no scheme has been designed. Proposals for local schemes are still at the development stage.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he intends the roll-out of (a) local road pricing schemes under the Transport Innovation
Fund and (b) the national road pricing system to use the EUs (i) European Geostationary navigation overlay service and (ii) Galileo satellite system, further to Article 2 of EU Directive 2004/52/EC. 
Dr. Ladyman: Decisions concerning the technologies used for local road pricing schemes under the Transport Innovation Fund are for the scheme promoters, in compliance with the Road Tolling (Interoperability of Electronic Road User Charging and Road Tolling Systems) Regulations 2007.
John Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had on tolling (a) the A102 Blackwall Tunnel approach road and (b) the Blackwall Tunnel; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Tom Harris:
We are committed to working with the Welsh Assembly Government and other partners on the promotion and development of cross-border transport links. Improving connectivity to major employment centres in North East Wales and Cheshire is one of the rail options being evaluated in high level
terms by the Wales Rail Planning Assessment. The consortium of north Wales transport authorities has been consulted during work on the Assessment, which is a joint planning study for the Welsh Assembly Government and the Department for Transport.
I recognise that there is considerable support in North West England and in Wales for improvements to the Wrexham-Bidston line. I welcome the co-operation that is taking place between Merseytravel passenger transport executive, English and Welsh transport authorities and the Welsh Assembly Government to examine potential improvements, including electrification. Merseytravel and the Welsh Assembly Government, working with partners, have jointly commissioned Network Rail to undertake a feasibility study of electrification of the line.
I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues and the Assembly Minister on transport matters affecting Wales. Department for Transport officials are keeping in close touch with officials from the Welsh Assembly Government and Merseytravel about the electrification study but it would be premature to speculate on any conclusions.
Once the outcome of studies is known, and subject to available funding and discussions with interested parties, Merseytravel PTE will consider whether a scheme is suitable to promote for major scheme funding as part of the second Local Transport Plan for Merseyside covering the period 2006-11. The Department for Transport and the Government Office for the North West have regular meetings with Merseytravel and local authorities to discuss implementation of Local Transport Plans.
A decision to proceed with electrification would be subject to producing a business case with Network Rail and the rail industry, and securing the necessary funding. It would be necessary to show that sufficient extra passenger numbers would be likely to use the electrified service to make it a value for money option. It would be for the authorities in the North West Region to justify such expenditure against other priorities and to secure this via their allocated regional funding.
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your question about how many babies were born in NHS maternity units in Leicestershire in each year since 1997. I am replying in her absence. (123185)
There are two NHS maternity units in Leicester Unitary Authority: Leicester General Hospital and Leicester Royal Infirmary. In addition there is an NHS midwife-led unit within the boundaries of the current county of Leicestershire: St. Marys Hospital in Melton Mowbray.
The latest year for which figures are available is 2005. The following table shows the number of live births in these three units for each year between 1997 and 2005.
|Live births in NHS maternity and midwife-led units in Leicester UA and Leicestershire county, 1997 to 2005|
|Leicester General Hospital (maternity unit)||Leicester Royal Infirmary (maternity unit)||St. Marys Hospital, Melton Mowbray (midwife-led unit)|
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