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18 Dec 2008 : Column 1007Wcontinued
Vegetation clearance and re-profiling of ditches, over a distance of 17 miles.
The information collected has been collated and is now included in an asset inventory. This is being reviewed to identify additional maintenance needs at identified vulnerable sites.
The maintenance requirements of the culverts and drains are monitored regularly. The Highways Agency will continue with its cyclical maintenance activities including gully cleaning, cutting vegetation in the ditches, keeping outfalls and gullies clear of debris. Additional drainage defect repairs are programmed between Junction 11A and 11, together with filter drain stone replacement, further ditch vegetation clearance and excavation of ditches following winter vegetation clearance.
Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to make vehicle mileage readings taken as part of the MOT test available to organisations involved in tackling vehicle-related crime. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) currently has no plans to make vehicle mileage readings taken as part of the MOT test available to organisations involved in tackling vehicle-related crime.
Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of the additional trains announced in November 2008 are to be allocated to the Northern franchise. 
Paul Clark: The vehicles announced in November 2008 are included in the 1,300 additional vehicles announced in the rolling stock plan, published by the Department for Transport on January 2008 and updated in July 2008. The final numbers of additional vehicles will be decided in commercial negotiations with the train operator. Any change from the previously published numbers will be announced when a commercial agreement is concluded.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of disabled people unable to (a) work and (b) pursue higher education because they are unable to use public transport; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport has made no such estimates. However, the Government are committed to achieving an accessible public transport system, and we have already introduced regulations to ensure trains, buses and coaches are accessible to disabled people.
Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make an assessment of the effect of operating train services in the (a) public and (b) private sectors in respect of (i) innovation, (ii) use of new technology, (iii) customer services and (iv) provision of information to customers; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Clark: In 2004 our rail White Paper The Future of Rail recognised rails status as a public service, specified by Government and delivered by the private sector. The £15 billion programme of investment in the network over the next five years, set out in last years rail White Paper, is focused on concrete improvements in the number of services available, performance and reliability, safety, capacity and ticketing and fares.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the economic downturn on rolling stock operating companies; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Clark: This is a business issue for the rolling stock leasing companies and is not for the Department for Transport to determine.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Departments capital expenditure on rail freight facilities has been in each year since 1997. 
Paul Clark: Since 1997, the Department for Transport, its predecessors and the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), awarded the following grants for rail freight facilities through the Freight Facilities Grant (FFG) programme and Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF).
The SRA suspended the FFG programme for most rail projects in 2003, although grants continued to be available for aggregate-based facilities through the ALSF. FFGs were reintroduced for all rail schemes by the Department in 2007.
In addition to FFGs, the Department has announced over £200 million of investment schemes through the Productivity Transport Innovation Fund, as well as £200 million provided for Network Rail to develop a Strategic Freight Network. The determination of Network Rails outputs and access charges for 2009-14 also included £275 million for the upgrade of the Great Northern/Great Eastern joint line via Lincoln and Shaftholme junction grade separation. All these projects have particular benefits for freight and, taken together, provide the largest investment package for rail freight in decades.
Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding support his Department has provided for the development of rail freight facilities in (a) Halton, (b) Merseyside and (c) Cheshire in the last 12 months. 
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport provides match funding for rail freight facilities through the Freight Facilities Grant (FFG) programme. There have been no applications presented to the Department for an FFG for rail freight facilities in Halton, Merseyside or Cheshire in the past 12 months and as such no funding has been provided.
Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the rail freight carrying capacity of the West Coast Main Line. 
Paul Clark: Network Rail has recently commenced work on the West Coast Route Utilisation Strategy. Rail freight capacity and enhancement options will be assessed as part of this workstream.
Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the written ministerial statement of 13 November 2008, Official Report, columns 66-7WS, on the Draft Renewable Transport Fuel Obligations (Amendment) Order 2009, (1) if he will reverse his plans to reduce the level of the obligation for the 2009-10 obligation period following the discovery of the drafting error in the 2007 Order; 
(2) if he will provide financial compensation for biofuel producers materially affected by the drafting error in the 2007 Order. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Due to a discrepancy identified in the RTFO Order 2007 (SI 3072) an amount of fossil fuel cannot be considered when calculating how much renewable fuel a supplier is obligated to supply. However, the impact of this problem on the volumes of biofuel used and the extent of any shortfall in the UK will not be known until after the end of this obligation year.
The Government are currently consulting on the proposed solution to rectify the discrepancy issue for the next obligation year, as part of a consultation on slowing down the rate of increase of obligation levels. The consultation closed on 17 December and we shall take into account responses about the possible effects of the discrepancy on biofuel producers.
Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many children have been (a) killed and (b) seriously injured in road accidents when they were passengers in taxis in each of the last 10 years; and how many of those children in each case were not wearing seat belts or using child restraints. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The numbers of casualties in reported personal injury road accidents for children (0-15 years old) that have been (a) killed and (b) seriously injured when they were passengers in taxis in each of the last 10 years in Great Britain are given in the table:
|Number of casualties|
A taxi is defined as any vehicle operating as a hackney carriage, regardless of construction, and bearing the appropriate district council or local authority hackney carriage plates. The definition also includes private hire cars from year 2005.
Information on whether seat belts or child restraints were worn in road collisions is not collected.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to ensure that any reduction of South West Trains services west of Exeter will be replaced by equivalent levels of rolling stock through other train operators. 
Paul Clark: Discussions are currently taking place with First Great Western regarding services to be operated west of Exeter when South West Trains (SWT) services cease and an announcement will be made in due course.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what effect the reduction in the rate of value added tax will have on the level of the Severn Bridges toll in 2009. 
Paul Clark: I have approved the Highways Agency's recommendation that the revised toll charges scheduled for 2009 should reflect the reduction in VAT and await the concessionaires formal agreement to this.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to (a) make, (b) lay before Parliament and (c) bring into force the Severn Bridges Toll Order. 
Paul Clark: The Severn Bridges Toll Order 2008 is not required to be laid before Parliament. The Order will be made in December after the Concessionaire has given its formal consent to the reduced annual inflation increase which will reflect the recent reduction in the rate of VAT.
The Order will come into force on the 1 January 2009 as required by section 9 (2) (b) of the Severn Bridges Act 1992.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what payment methods for the Severn Bridges toll are (a) permitted and (b) prohibited by the Severn Bridges Act 1992 and associated delegated legislation. 
Paul Clark: There are no permissions or prohibitions in the Severn Bridges Act 1992, but the Severn Bridge Regulations 1993 determine the use of cash for payment of the tolls at the Crossing. The only permitted exception is where driver has participated in the concessionaire's pre-payment scheme.
Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the cost of procurement and installation of (a) one reactive speed warning sign, (b) one fixed safety camera and (c) a system of time over distance speed cameras. 
Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 9 December 2008]: The Department has made the following estimates of vehicle activated signs and fixed speed cameras.
|Date of estimate||Measure||Cost (£)|
|(1) This excluded provision of an electrical supply (which can be relatively significant in rural locations).|
Time over distance cameras cover a length of road, rather than a particular spot as with fixed speed cameras. The cost per kilometre of installing a time over distance camera system depends on a number of variables including the number of junctions present and the road environment. At present only one supplier has a model type approved for enforcement, but type approval is ongoing for a further three systems, including two from new suppliers.
We do not have any estimate for the average cost of a time over distance camera system.
Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the Mayor of London on the implications for London's transport budget of removing the western extension of the congestion charge zone; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: None. Government agreed a generous, long-term funding settlement with Transport for London last year and it is now for them to manage their estate, policies and priorities within that funding envelope.
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