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22 May 2007 : Column 1266W—continued

Milton Keynes Station: Parking

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to increase car parking space at Milton Keynes station. [138609]

Mr. Tom Harris: Network Rail, in conjunction with Milton Keynes council and other key stakeholders, is working on proposals to increase car parking capacity. The Department is monitoring progress to ensure delivery meets the anticipated increases in demand following the improved timetables to be introduced on the West Coast Main Line in early 2009.

Motorway Service Areas

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made with the piloting of French-style rest areas next to motorways. [137908]

Dr. Ladyman: Officials are currently undertaking a review of the policy on roadside facilities. As part of that review, evidence has been sought from the public and interested parties on relevant issues, including motorway rest areas. The evidence received is being considered and I hope to be able to publish a new policy in the autumn, following further public consultation.

Public Transport

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he plans to take to increase the role of social enterprise organisations in the provision of public transport. [138266]

Gillian Merron: The Department of Transport launched a report in November 2006 which looks at the role of social enterprise in community transport. We are working with the Plunkett Foundation and the Community Transport Association on taking the recommendations forward.

Social enterprise organisations which do not operate with a view to profit may benefit from the proposals set out in “Putting Passengers First” concerning vehicles operated under permits under section 19 or 22 of the Transport Act 1985. Essentially these changes would allow more flexibility as to vehicle size and would allow drivers of buses on section 22 services to be paid. Putting Passengers First may be found on the Department’s website (www.dft.gov.uk).

Railway Stations: Access

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will set benchmarks or other criteria to be achieved by Network Rail and train operators in ensuring access to railway stations for (a) disabled people, (b) people who are semi-ambulant and (c) mothers with young children; and if he will make a statement. [138431]


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Mr. Tom Harris [holding answer 21 May 2007]: When undertaking refurbishment or installing new equipment at stations Network Rail and train operating companies are required to meet the technical standards in the Train and Station Service for Disabled Passengers: A Code of Practice (SRA, 2002).

In addition, new technical standards for stations are due to come into force shortly under the EU-wide Technical Standards for Interoperability; Persons of Reduced Mobility. This will apply to those with luggage, parents with prams and other groups, as well as disabled people.

Operators also have a duty under Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to make reasonable adjustments to their services to ensure they are not impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to access.

Where a train operator or Network Rail cannot meet the required standards in the code of practice, they must apply to the Department for a dispensation.

As a result of the incoming European Technical Standards for Interoperability; Persons of Reduced Mobility, the Department are currently developing an updated code of practice to bring UK standards into line with the TSI.

The Railways for All strategy was launched on 26 March 2006. It sets out what the rail industry is doing to improve access to Britain's railways, particularly for people with disabilities, in line with the standards contained in the code.

Central to the strategy is the Access for All programme which provides £370 million of ring-fenced funding to improve accessibility at railway stations up to 2015.

In addition, around £7 million a year is available from the Access for All Small Schemes fund for train operators and other third parties to bid for on a match fund basis.

Train and station operators are required to have in place a Disabled Person's Protection Policy (DPPP) which sets out the organisation's policies and approach for helping disabled people and a summary of the accessible facilities at the stations they operate.

Railways: Hampshire

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average travel time was by rail between (a) Portsmouth and Waterloo via Eastleigh and (b) Southampton and Waterloo in each year since 1997. [138783]

Mr. Tom Harris: The average journey time comparisons for 1997 to 2007 are listed as follows.


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Portsmouth-London Waterloo via Eastleigh
Time

1997

2h 17

1998

2h 17

1999

2h 23

2000

2h 23

2001

2h 23

2002

2h 23

2003

2h 23

2004

2h 01

2005

2h 12

2006

2h 12

2007

2h 12


Southampton-London Waterloo
Time

1997

1h 13

1998

1h 13

1999

1h 16

2000

1h 16

2001

1h 18

2002

1h 16

2003

1h 16

2004

1h 18

2005

1h 19

2006

1h 19

2007

1h 19


The Portsmouth to Waterloo via Eastleigh service has been subject to various stopping patterns. Prior to 2004 it was literally all stations, then became fast from Basingstoke, and now is a semi fast.

The Southampton to Waterloo journey time is based on the fast service and has marginally increased through extended dwell times with the modern stock.

Road Signs and Markings

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will bring forward amendments to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 to enable the shape of a pedestrian to be painted on the road surface at the approach to pedestrian crossings as an additional safety measure. [137876]

Gillian Merron: No, as no road safety purpose would be served. The presence of a pedestrian crossing is already indicated by zigzag markings on the approaches, Belisha beacons or traffic signals. If there is an identified need for further warning, there are prescribed warning signs for zebra crossings and for signalled crossings.

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many times local highways authorities (a) faced civil action and (b) paid any amount in settlement for liability claims made against them for the (i) absence and (ii) incorrect positioning of a road sign on a public highway in each of the last five years. [138228]

Gillian Merron [holding answer 21 May 2007]: This information is not kept centrally.

Road Traffic: Stonehenge

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research (a) his Department and (b) the Highways Agency (i) is undertaking and (ii) has undertaken into (A) potential solutions to the traffic congestion in the vicinity of Stonehenge and (B)
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alternative routes to redirect the A303 away from Stonehenge following the public inquiry into the A303 at Stonehenge completed in 2005. [137987]

Dr. Ladyman: Following the public inquiry into the A303 Stonehenge Improvement scheme, the Department has led an inter-departmental review of the scheme and alternative options. The review was necessary because of a significant increase in the cost of the proposed tunnel past Stonehenge. Detailed work on the assessment of options has been carried out by the Highways Agency.

As well as the published scheme heard at the public inquiry (with its proposals for a 2.1 km long twin-bored tunnel), the options chosen for detailed review included:

The Review Group submitted its report to Ministers last summer. However, in order to understand more fully the effects of the partial solutions on the operation of the A303 and the local road network, it was clear that further detailed analysis based on up-to-date traffic information was needed. Fresh traffic surveys were carried out by the Highways Agency last autumn to provide the basis for further analytical work which is currently being undertaken. The results from this work will be considered alongside the findings of the Review Group to inform our decision on the way forward for this scheme.

Rolling Stock

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of the new railway carriages announced by his Department in March will be introduced by the end of each year between 2008 and 2013; and on which routes. [137337]

Mr. Tom Harris: As we have consistently made clear, it is too early to say where precisely the additional rolling stock will be used. The deployment of the new rolling stock will be agreed with the industry following the publication of the high level output specification and the long-term rail strategy this summer, in accordance with the periodic review timetable set out in the ORR’s advice to Ministers published in February 2007.

The precise phasing of the orders will reflect where crowding relief is most urgently needed; any preparatory platform-lengthening or increase in power supply which may be required to accommodate longer trains; and the capacity of the suppliers of rolling stock.

South West Trains: Fares

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the change in the level of non-regulated fares on South West Train services was in each year since 2000-01; and if he will make a statement. [138123]


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Mr. Tom Harris: Changes in unregulated fares on South West Trains are a commercial matter for South West Trains. It is in their interests to provide an attractive range of fares and to encourage more passengers to use the railway.

Traffic Lights

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 2 May 2007, Official Report, columns 1676-77W, on traffic lights, how much was spent in financial year 2006-07 on installing traffic responsive signals; and how much he expects to be spent in financial year 2007-08. [138511]

Gillian Merron: This information is not held centrally. The Department does not monitor local authority expenditure on installing traffic responsive signals. With respect to the strategic road network, most Highways Agency signals are traffic responsive, but as traffic signal installation costs are not separately recorded or forecast, it is not possible to confirm the total related expenditure.

Treasury

Capital Allowances: Biofuels

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the process is for obtaining approval for equipment to qualify for the enhanced capital allowances for biofuel equipment; who is responsible for submitting an application for approval; what criteria need to be satisfied for approval to be given; how long it is expected to take for a decision to be made; what remedy is available to those whose applications are unsuccessful; from what date applications may be made; and if he will make a statement; [138078]

(2) if he will make a statement on the criteria to be satisfied for equipment to qualify for the enhanced capital allowances for biofuel equipment announced in the Budget. [138083]

John Healey [holding answer 21 May 2007]: In Budget 2007, the Government announced their intention to apply for state aid approval for an EGA scheme to support the most carbon-efficient biofuels plant. This process is ongoing.

Once that approval has been obtained it will be for DEFRA to consider and approve applications for the scheme.

Council Tax: Armed Forces

Mr. Harper: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with (a) the Ministry of Defence and (b) the Department for Communities and Local Government on the proposed council tax waiver for service personnel on operations overseas; and if he will make a statement. [138807]

Mr. Timms: Treasury Ministers and officials have frequent meetings with colleagues from other Government Departments on a wide range of issues as part of policy
22 May 2007 : Column 1271W
development and delivery. As was the case with previous administrations it is not the Government's practice to provide details of all such discussions.

Departments: Freedom of Information

Anne Main: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many requests were made to his Department under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in each year since 2005; and how many of those requests were unsuccessful. [137852]

John Healey: For the most recent monitoring statistics I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) on 18 April 2007, Official Report, column 7WS.


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