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Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer of 12 February 2009, Official Report, column 2132W on railways: employment, with which train operators he has had discussions on these matters in the last six months. 
Paul Clark: Ministers in the Department for Transport have met representatives of all the franchised passenger train operating companies in recent weeks to discuss the effects of current economic conditions on their operations.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with train operating companies on the likely effects of the current economic situation on levels of (a) unregulated rail fares and (b) station car parking charges. 
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport has regular meetings with train operators about all matters relating to train operator performanceincluding the levels of unregulated fares and car park charges from time to time, though these are commercial matters entirely for train operators.
Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what dates he has met representatives of the Association of Train Operating Companies to discuss operators ability to meet existing franchise payments in the last six months. 
Paul Clark: Ministers meet with the Association of Train Operating Companies regularly to discuss a range of issues. The specific issue of train operators ability to meet franchise payments has not been raised.
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport does not have any targets which are expressed in terms of passenger numbers on the railway. The capacity and loading metrics which the Department intends to deliver by 2014 are set out in the High Level Output Specification which was published by the Department in July 2007, alongside the White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway.
Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what specification his Department has established for the use on the rail network of sleepers made from 100 per cent. recycled plastic; 
The procurement of sleepers is an operational matter for Network Rail as the owner and operator of the national rail network. The hon. Member should contact Network Rail's Chief Executive at the following address for a response to his questions:
90 York Way
London, N1 9AG
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department was consulted by Network Rail before that company decided to alter its work programme for 2009; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Clark: This is an operational matter for Network Rail. Network Rail's spending programmes for Control Period 4 are agreed with the Office of Rail Regulation, which will independently continue to monitor the work.
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport recently commissioned research from Passenger Focus on the perception of value for money of rail fares. This specifically addressed commuter travel. The final report, conclusions and recommendations were published on 19 February. Ministers are meeting with the Association of Train Operating Companies later this month to discuss which Passenger Focus recommendations can be taken forward at this time and how best to do this.
The Government have also recently confirmed that existing rail fare policy will not change. The annual cap on increases in regulated fares (RPI+1 per cent. in most cases) will still apply even if there is a negative RPI in July. This could result in rail fares going down in January 2010.
Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the statement of 12 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1531-33, on new trains (investment), how many jobs in the supply chain to provide new rolling stock for the East Coast and Great Western main lines will be in the UK. 
Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the statement of 12 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1531-33, on new trains (investment), what assessment he has made of the effect of World Trade Organisation treaty obligations on UK and European suppliers competing for railway rolling stock tenders in Japan. 
Paul Clark: The European Commission has highlighted the difficulties of entry for non-Japanese companies into the Japanese rail market. I understand that there are a small number of European trains and train components in Japan, and that there is the potential for more, although this is likely to require significant investment on the part of any potential market entrants. The Foreign Office continues to work with the European Commissionwhich takes the lead in this areato review the issue of barriers to market.
Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Statement of 12 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1531-3, on new trains (investment), whether UK and European rail companies are able to bid for railway rolling stock tenders in Japan. 
Paul Clark: UK and European rail industry suppliers are able to bid for railway rolling stock tenders in Japan, although the European Commission estimates that around 98 per cent. of procurements are not competitively tendered.
Paul Clark: A working group commissioned to look into the feasibility of payment at the Severn River Crossings by electronic means presented its findings in October 2008 to the Highways Agency's chief executive. The Highways Agency is considering its response and is in discussion with Severn River Crossings Plc on the way forward.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) of 20 January 2009, Official Report, column 1307W, on speed limits, what progress his Department has made towards creating a national digital road map of speed limits for use with satellite navigation devices; when he expects the national digital road map of speed limits will be completed; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: We are consulting with stakeholders involved in collecting, managing and using data on how best to record information about speed limits and will be testing our recommended approach through trials of a form of voluntary Intelligent Speed Adaptation as part of our Road Safety Partnership Grant programme, announced on 4 March 2009.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) of 20 January 2009, Official Report, column 1307W, on speed limits, what recent meetings he has had with car manufacturers and other stakeholders on facilitating the availability of intelligent speed adaptation. 
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what records he holds on the cost of energy to (a) industry and (b) domestic users in the UK compared to such costs in each other EU member state. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Domestic and industrial retail prices for gas and electricity for EU member states are published in section 5 of Quarterly Energy Prices, the latest edition of which was published in December 2008 and is available online at:
Estimates for July to December 2008 show that domestic gas and electricity prices in the UK, including taxes, were the lowest and fifth lowest in the EU15 respectively. Since 1998, UK domestic gas prices have been among the lowest in the EU15, and UK domestic electricity prices have generally been below the EU15 median price.
For industry, estimated prices, including taxes, for July to December 2008 showed that gas prices were below the EU15 median. For electricity, estimated prices were above the EU15 median. Historically, electricity prices to industrial users have been below the EU average, and up to January 2006 industrial electricity prices were no higher than the EU average except for the very largest energy consumers.
Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many respiratory disease claims received under the coal health compensation scheme from residents of Wansbeck constituency were awaiting settlement at the latest date for which figures are available. 
Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many grant applications the Low Carbon Buildings programme has received from households in (a) Wansbeck constituency and (b) the county of Northumberland. 
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Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State regularly meets Energy Ministers from Nordic States in the EU Energy Council, most recently on 19 February 2009. I last met the Norwegian Energy Minister in Oslo on 13 October 2008, where we discussed a range of energy related issues.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the publics attitudes towards the Governments policy on nuclear power. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Department has not commissioned or evaluated any research on the publics attitudes towards the Governments policy on nuclear power since the White Paper was published in January 2008.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr. Whitehead) of 22 January 2009, Official Report, column 886, on a European supergrid, what discussions he has had with Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers on the international co-operation required for such an infrastructure project. 
The idea of a European supergrid could help member states meet climate change and energy goals. However, this type of project involves many difficult cross-border regulatory and jurisdictional issues which will require significant effort to resolve and will take time to do so. It is also unclear what cost implications would be for UK consumers of this project relative to other options to secure energy supplies.
DECC officials are currently in discussions with the European Commission on their proposals, to share our experience on offshore transmission and ensure UK objectives are met in any developments on this project.
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