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17 Dec 2007 : Column 1180W—continued


Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether traffic officers within the Highways Agency are asked to give reasons as to why they leave Crown employment. [173612]

Mr. Tom Harris: Exit interviews are undertaken for all staff who leave the Agency, including those working in the Traffic Officer Service. These are completed by line managers in a standard format and are submitted to Human Resource Customer Services Division, who
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check to see if there is any action to be taken on an individual case-by-case basis before filing the form on the individual’s file.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the pay (a) minimum and (b) maximum for the Highway Agency’s traffic officers was in each pay year since that grade was established; and what range is proposed for traffic officers in the 2007 pay round. [173615]

Mr. Tom Harris: The minimum and maximum for the relevant years are shown in the table. TM1A staff are control room operators and TM1B staff are on-road Traffic Officers. These rates do not include shift allowances, which are paid at 12.5 per cent. or 20 per cent. according to shift pattern.

Grade Minimum Maximum

2003-04

TM1A

14,000

16,842

TM1B

15,800

20,000

2004-05

TM1A

14,280

16,842

TM1B

16,171

20,000

2005-06

TM1A

15,079

17,928

TM1B

16,659

20,302

2006-07

TM1A

15,923

18,466

TM1B

17,162

20,912

2007-08 (Proposed)

TM1A

16,719

18,466

TM1B

17,248

20,912


HM Coastguard: Scotland

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for how many hours the east coast of Scotland was without HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter support in 2007; and if she will make a statement. [173683]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is not aware of any instances when Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter support was unavailable on the east coast of Scotland during 2007.

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many search and rescue helicopters are available to HM Coastguard in Scotland; how many such helicopters would be needed to provide full-time helicopter cover for coastguard services in Scotland; and if she will make a statement. [173684]

Jim Fitzpatrick: There are currently a total of eight search and rescue helicopters available to HM Coastguard in Scotland providing full-time coverage for maritime search and rescue.

Milton Keynes Central Station: Repairs and Maintenance

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the likely effects work being undertaken at Milton Keynes Central train station will have on Milton Keynes commuters when the work is completed. [174580]


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Mr. Tom Harris: The enlarged Milton Keynes Central station was justified on the basis that the town could be served by an increased frequency of inter city trains linking Milton Keynes with the north and that the commuter services would be able to operate more resiliency on the slow lines. It is also making provision for a possible new service towards Bedford or Oxford. It was not practicable, because of intense line and train occupation to change the decision in the 2003 Strategy for the route to provide new capacity so that peak hour commuter traffic, between Milton Keynes and London, will be handled by the Silverlink (now London Midland) services.

Motor Vehicles: Testing

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of proposals to move frequency of MOT testing for road vehicles to the EU minimum frequency. [174292]

Jim Fitzpatrick: We have made an initial assessment which will be issued for consultation in the new year.

Motorway Service Areas: Competition

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has to introduce more competition into the operation of motorway service areas. [173800]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Highways Agency has recently carried out a public consultation on a proposed new policy for roadside facilities in England.

The proposed policy would allow the private sector, which is responsible for providing services, to bring forward proposals for motorway rest areas as an alternative to the standard motorway service area. A rest area would have some but not all of the facilities normally provided at a service area.

The revised policy should encourage the private sector to think of innovative ways to improve services and increase competition.

Responses to the consultation are now being considered before the new policy is published next year.

Motorways: Accidents

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of motorway accidents in 2006. [173799]

Mr. Tom Harris: The exchequer cost of motorway accidents in Great Britain 2006 is estimated to be £23.9 million in 2006 prices. This estimate is based on the number of injury and non-injury motorway accidents in 2006 and the accident prevention unit values that are used in transport appraisals.

In 2006 there were 164 fatal accidents, 789 serious accidents and 7,426 slight accidents reported on motorways in Great Britain. In addition, there were an estimated 63,680 damage-only accidents on motorways. The exchequer costs include medical, ambulance and police costs.


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The accident prevention values are taken from the Department's ‘Highways Economic Note No. 1 (HEN1) 2005 Valuation of the Benefits of Prevention of Road Accidents and Casualties’ and have been uprated for 2006.

Using the accident values in HEN1, the total cost to society of all motorway accidents in Great Britain in 2006 is estimated to have been £815 million (2006 prices). In addition to the Exchequer costs, this figure also includes estimates of the human costs, based on values that people are willing to pay to reduce pain, grief and suffering, the administrative costs of insurance, damage to vehicles and property and the value of lost output, including non-wage payments.

National Identity Register

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans her Department has to make use of data on the National Identity Register when it is established; and what the estimated cost to her Department of that use is. [174036]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The only part of the Department that has plans to use the National Identity Register (NIR), when established, is the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

DVLA has been working for some time with Home Office and Immigration and Passport Service (IPS) to ensure that the new Driver Register system it is currently developing can make best use of the National Identity Register (NIR) when this is established. The new DVLA systems already interact with IPS Passport systems and as the NIR is established the intention would be for DVLA to rely more on the ID verification provided by the new register and avoid the duplication in activities that currently have to take place as DVLA are required to carry out their own verification. This has been reported publicly in the ID scheme business case as the major benefit expected for DVLA. Having designed its new systems with this in mind, changing the interaction from IPS systems into the newer and more robust systems expected for NIR would have only marginal cost for DVLA.

Passports: Lost Property

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many passports sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) were subsequently reported missing in the last 12 months; and how many owners of passports lost by the DVLA have claimed compensation. [171190]

Jim Fitzpatrick: DVLA does not hold information on the number of passports sent but not subsequently received at the agency. In the past year DVLA has paid compensation for the replacement of 217 passports where there have been claims that the agency has lost them and 756 where the Royal Mail has accepted responsibility for their loss. DVLA handles and returns more than 1.5 million identity documents belonging to its customers each year.


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Railways

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had with (a) her officials and (b) business representatives on the construction of further high-speed rail lines in the UK. [173617]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Secretary of State has regular discussions with officials on all aspects of rail policy, including high-speed lines, in the normal course of business. The Secretary of State also has regular discussions with business representatives to discuss a range of transport issues.

Railways: Electrification

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the likely effect on carbon dioxide emissions of the full electrification of (a) the Great Western railway line and (b) the Midland mainline; and what estimate she has made of the cost of each. [170751]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Railway Safety and Standards Board has published a report which considers the impact of future electrification. The report sets out the discounted costs and the 60 year value of carbon reduction in monetised form related to a number of options for electrification of the Great Western and Midland main lines. The costs are for the construction of the Electrification Infrastructure, excluding the cost of new rolling stock.

£ million
Line Carbon benefit Cost of electrification

Great Western mainline

66

649

Midland mainline

38

301


Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the likely effect on reliability of the full electrification of (a) the Great Western railway line and (b) the Midlands Mainline. [170752]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Railway Safety and Standards Board has published a report which considers the impact of future electrification. The expected effect on reliability of inter-city routes such as Great Western and Midlands Main line is broadly neutral. The enhanced reliability of electric trains compared with diesels is offset by dependence on the integrity of the catenary system which distributes electricity to the trains.

Railways: Fares

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if she will make a statement about rises in rail fares; [163298]

(2) what discussions her officials have had with train operating companies on the effect on fares of increases in franchise premia payments. [163476]


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Mr. Tom Harris: The Department has had no discussions with train operating companies on the effect on fares of increases in franchise premia payments.

The Government protect commuters by limiting most operators to average increases in regulated fares of no more than 1 per cent. above inflation each year over the life of the franchise. Most saver return tickets (long distance, off-peak fares) are also regulated at the same levels. We have pledged to keep this cap in place for at least the next seven years.

More than half of rail journeys are made on a regulated ticket, and around 80 per cent. of passengers buy either a regulated or discounted ticket. Regulated fares are no higher now in real terms than they were at privatisation.

Unregulated fares are a matter for the train operators, but increases are kept under review by Government.

The Department continues to listen to the representations of train users and has invited Passenger Focus to take a greater role in commenting on the specification of future franchises.

Railways: Northern Region

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions have taken place with Northern franchise in 2007 on new rolling stock on lines out of Manchester. [173576]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department has held various discussions with Northern Rail during 2007 about the provision of rolling stock new to the franchise. These discussions have centred, firstly, around the procurement by Northern Rail of additional class 158 rolling stock, replacing a number of class 142 units and, secondly, around the publication of the High Level Output Specification and provision of new rolling stock in the period between 2009 and 2014.

In the first instance, deployment of additional rolling stock procured commercially by Northern Rail is a matter for the company and no specific discussions have been held regarding services on lines out of Manchester. In the second instance, discussions have been held at a high level and no decisions have yet been made on deployment of new vehicles between 2009 and 2014.

Railways: Portsmouth

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the evidential basis is of the stated need to increase the capacity on the Portsmouth mainline and use high density suburban rolling stock; and if she will make a statement. [172817]


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Mr. Tom Harris: Network Rail has undertaken a route utilisation strategy for the South West Main Line (March 2006), and this confirmed that there was no capacity for running additional trains in the morning peak period of 07.30 to 09.30.

Stagecoach South Western has therefore addressed the need to accommodate passenger demand within the infrastructure available. While recognising that this may not be met with universal approval, the fact that a 12-car Class 450 (“blue”) train can offer an additional 140 seats compared to a 10-car Class 444 (“white”) train should mean that fewer passengers need to stand on the Portsmouth line trains particularly for stations closer to London.


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