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20 Apr 2009 : Column 391W—continued

Railways: Disabled

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what proportion of the trains of each train operator which were in operation in each year since 1997 were accessible to people in wheelchairs; and if he will make a statement. [269662]

Paul Clark: The majority of trains have been accessible to wheelchair users for many years, although the proportion that meet modern accessibility standards has increased dramatically since the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (RVAR) (SI 1998/2456) were introduced in 1998. The RVAR considerably improve the accessibility of rail vehicles to disabled people by setting minimum technical standards designed to make trains more accessible to disabled people, including wheelchair users.

Almost 4,800 train carriages have been built in compliance with RVAR, while almost all older vehicles have featured improved accessibility, including for wheelchair users, when they have undergone refurbishment. A list of all trains that were built in compliance with RVAR and their current operator is available on the Department for Transport's website:


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However, as rolling stock is frequently moved between different train operating companies, the Department does not keep a historical record of where these rail vehicles have previously been in service.

The UK's lead in this area resulted last year in the introduction of new pan-European accessibility standards (the Technical Specification of Interoperability for Persons with Reduced Mobility—PRM TSI) which are based on RVAR. In future, all heavy rail trains will be subject to the PRM TSI, while tram, underground and metro systems will remain subject to RVAR.

In 2008, the Department set an end date of 1 January 2020, by which time all trains must be accessible. This is some 15 years earlier than would occur naturally through normal fleet replacement and we are already working closely with the rail industry to deliver this commitment.

Railways: Fares

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average change in the cost of (a) first class and (b) second class unregulated rail fares was in each of the last 10 years. [269736]

Paul Clark: This information is contained in the Fares Index in National Rail Trends—available from the ORR website at:

Railways: Franchises

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 17 March 2009, Official Report, column 990W, on railways: franchises, what timetable has been set for completion of the research. [269028]

Paul Clark: As described in the previous answer of 17 March 2009, the current research project into rail passenger demand forecasting is due to conclude by the end of 2009. Work is currently on schedule.

Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which rail franchises and concessions were fully or partly operated by non-UK companies in each of the last five years; and how much public subsidy each such franchise received in each of those years. [269792]

Paul Clark: All franchises let by the Department for Transport have been awarded to companies registered in the United Kingdom. Details of the ultimate shareholders should be available in the relevant filed accounts at Companies House.

Subsidy paid to all franchises is published annually by the Office of Rail Regulation in National Rail Trends which is available in the Library of the House and online at:

Railways: Freight

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 30 March 2009, Official Report, column 835W, on railways: freight, what his Department's policy is on where on a stretch of motorway rail freight interchanges should be sited. [268897]


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Paul Clark: The Strategic Rail Authority document ‘Strategic Rail Interchange Policy’ of 2004, which can be found at:

is still the basis for the Department's policy on rail freight interchanges. It does not specify locations on the motorway network where rail freight interchanges should be sited, but does state that such interchanges should have “high quality links to the motorway and trunk road network”.

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 30 March 2009, Official Report, column 835W, on railways: freight, what the position of (a) the Highways Agency and (b) Kent Highways was on the proposed Kent International Gateway development; and if he will make a statement. [268898]

Paul Clark: The position of the Highways Agency is that further clarifications are required from the developer about the impact of the proposed development. At present the Highways Agency's view is that the proposal might be detrimental to safety and journey time reliability at Junction 8 of the M20 and the developer might be able to offer mitigation measures to offset this issue. The position of Kent Highways is a matter for Kent county council.

Roads

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the service contract with each of the four appointed road user service providers. [262419]

Paul Clark: These have been placed in the Libraries of the House, with the exception of the two out of 10 supporting schedules to each contract which are commercially sensitive.

Roads: Accidents

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost to the public purse funds on average was of each road fatality in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [268437]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport publishes the average value of preventing a fatality on roads as part of the new approach to appraisal guidance. This is used by promoters to develop business cases. The overall value includes some estimates of costs that would be avoided by preventing road fatalities, some of which would otherwise fall on public funds.

Savings made in the form of police costs from preventing a fatal accident are estimated as £1,920 (2007 prices) on average. It is important to note that this cost saving is attributable to a fatal accident and not to each single fatality. A single accident can involve more than one fatality and include other individuals with injuries varying in severity. Medical and ambulance costs, however, relate to each personal fatality and are estimated at £6,310 (2007 prices).


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Each year the Department for Transport publishes its valuation of preventing fatalities (VPF) on transport using annual road accident data for appraisal purposes. In addition to the costs mentioned above components of the VPF that are directly attributable to each fatality on average include valuations of lost human output (£624,190 in 2007 prices) and human costs such as grievance and suffering (£1,232,800 in 2007 prices).

Roads: EC Action

Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 16 December 2008, Official Report, columns 113-4WS, on the EU Transport Council, (1) what recent progress has been made in respect of the EU's proposed directive on cross-border enforcement in the field of road safety; and if he will make a statement; [268712]

(2) with reference to the written ministerial statement of 8 October 2008, Official Report, column 18WS, on the EU Transport Council, what progress has been made on overcoming the practical and legal difficulties of cross-border enforcement for non-resident drivers escaping financial penalties for road safety infringements; and if he will make a statement. [268713]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The proposed EU directive on cross- border enforcement is not on the Transport Council agenda under the current presidency and I am not aware of any further work having been done on the proposed directive following the December Transport Council.

Roads: Yorkshire and Humberside

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions his Department has had with the East Riding of Yorkshire council on road safety improvements on the A1079. [269352]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport has had no recent discussions with East Riding of Yorkshire council regarding road safety improvements on the A1079.

Rolling Stock: Manpower

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Derby North of 6 March 2009, Official Report, column 1847W, on rolling stock, what assessment he has made of the effect of the introduction of new rolling stock on numbers of jobs servicing and maintaining the rolling stock to be replaced. [268995]

Paul Clark: Agility Trains has suggested that around 1,400 jobs in train maintenance will be safeguarded by their Super Express proposal. Across the network, the demand for train maintenance personnel will increase as the Department for Transport invests in the new Super Express fleet, the HLOS requirements, the new Thameslink and the new Crossrail fleets.


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Rolling Stock: South East

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what additional rolling stock is planned for the Sevenoaks to London railway line. [269750]

Paul Clark: Southeastern will be a recipient of some of the new rolling stock that is being procured for the Thameslink programme. Sevenoaks to London will be one of the lines on which this stock is likely to be deployed.

Tankers: Safety

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what failsafe safety measures are in place in tankers transporting liquefied gas; and if he will make a statement. [269344]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Road tank vehicles transporting liquefied gas brought into service in the UK must meet the vehicle and service equipment construction requirements of the European agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road. These requirements include at least three mutually independent closures mounted in series, and spring-loaded safety valves.

Tank vehicles and shells must be certified as meeting the requirements prior to entering into service for the first time. Tank vehicles must pass an annual inspection thereafter to ensure they remain fit for service and tank shells are subject to periodic inspection requirements.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects all UK-registered tankers to have double hulls. [269345]


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Jim Fitzpatrick: There is no requirement within UK or international law for all tankers to be equipped with double hulls.

The requirements for double-hulling of such ships are based upon the type of cargo carried and as such there is no expectation that at a specific date the entire fleet of UK registered tankers will be so equipped.

Transport: Royal Family

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who decides the mode of transport appropriate for official journeys by a member of the royal family. [269076]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Royal Travel Office in conjunction with the Royal Household decides the mode of transport appropriate for a journey by a member of the royal family. The decision on the mode takes account of safety, security, value for money, the best use of principals’ time, the requirements of the visit, the avoidance of disruption to the public, environmental considerations and appropriateness for the occasion.

Wind Power: Planning Permission

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria the Highways Agency uses in appraising proposals for the construction of wind farms adjacent to or near highways. [269221]

Paul Clark: The current working criteria used by the Highways Agency for appraising proposals for the construction of wind farms is available on the Highways Agency website at:


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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 20 April 2009

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Bank Services: Fees and Charges

Linda Gilroy: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has made in investigating unfair bank charges; and when he expects the OFT to report. [269800]

Mr. Thomas: The OFT has written to banks with its provisional view on the fairness of unarranged overdraft and returned item fees, setting out its concern that they may be unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999. The OFT announced on 3 April 2009 that it is to streamline its investigation into unarranged overdraft charges by focusing on the terms of three banks in particular in order to progress the case in the shortest and most efficient way possible. The OFT expects to reach final conclusions on fairness later this year.

China

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether officials from his Department have held discussions with colleagues in the Scotland Office on the Secretary of State for Scotland's forthcoming visit to China as part of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry's trade delegation; and whether officials from his Department will accompany the Secretary of State for Scotland on the visit. [267018]

Mr. Thomas: Officials from this Department have been in contact with colleagues in the Scotland Office regarding the Secretary of State for Scotland's visit to China.

Officials from this Department did not accompany the Secretary of State for Scotland on his visit. However, officials at our missions in China supported both the trade mission and the visit.

Departmental Buildings

Grant Shapps: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what properties his (a) Department and (b) Department's (i) executive agencies and (ii) non-departmental public bodies have sold in each of the last five years; and how many of these have been sold for housing development. [266497]


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Mr. McFadden: This Department has not sold any land from its HQ estate over the last five years.

I have approached the chief executives of Companies House and the Insolvency Service and they will respond to you directly.

Information for those non-departmental public bodies overseen by BERR who have sold properties in each of the last five years is as follows:

UK Atomic Energy Authority

The Winfrith Technology Centre, Dorset was sold to the Urban Regeneration Agency (doing business as English Partnerships) on 31 March 2004. Associated with the sale of the Winfrith Technology Centre, six plots of adjoining agricultural land were sold in financial year 2006-07 in accordance with the Crichel Down rules. Two areas of agricultural land to the west of the Winfrith site were sold in financial year 2005-06. The final plot of this agricultural land was sold in financial year 2006-07. None of these were sold for housing development.

In summer 2006 two plots of land were sold in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire associated with the former water treatment works at Harwell: an angling lake; and a plot of land with planning permission for two residential dwellings.

Information for the regional development agencies (statistical information only due to volume involved) is as follows:

Advantage West Midlands
Number
Properties sold Properties sold for housing development

2007-08

24

1

2006-07

6

0

2005-06

5

2

2004-05

12

5

2003-04

3

0


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