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Lord Swinfen: My Lords, I very much appreciate what the noble Lord said on Amendment No. 286. However, I am concerned about the private or public owners and operators of the substitute services. If they do not at present have to accept dogs, will the rail authorities be able to force them to accept these assistance dogs?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the answer is yes. The service that is provided is a substitute for a train service. That substitute service has to make the same provision as the train service. The issue is not whether it is a taxi, a minibus, a PSV vehicle or a minicab; it is whether it is substituting for a train service. If the provisions relate to the train, they relate to the substitute for the train. I hope that that gives the assurance which the noble Lord seeks.
Amendment No. 260 requires competitive tendering. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon, that competitive tendering would normally be appropriate for substitute services. However, I do not think that that requirement should be on the face of the Bill. In any case, virtually all substitute services will be procured by the train operators and not by the
Lord Swinfen: My Lords, I thank all those who supported me on this group of amendments. My noble friend Lord Freeman is right. When someone is on the Strategic Rail Authority, it is to represent. He or she is not a delegate. The field of disability is so wide that one person will not necessarily have a particularly good knowledge of every aspect.
I found the Minister's reply very helpful. I thank him for that and I thank him for the emphasis that he gave, after my intervention in his speech, with regard to assistance dogs. He gave me the answer for which I was specifically looking. I do not think that I shall need to bring this matter back at Third Reading, although I reserve the right to do so if I find holes in the noble Lord's argument. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The integration of information and booking facilities is a vital element in a modern integrated transport system. With the sophisticated technology now available, it should be possible for passengers to obtain from one outlet information as to the scheduled
In Committee the Government objected to the amendment on the grounds that it is a primary purpose of the SRA to contribute to the development of an integrated transport system. They said that the amendment was therefore unnecessary. Unfortunately, I believe that would also mean that there is no need for the subsection at all. That is because subsection (1) of Clause 206 states:
I turn to Amendment No. 259. The new clause would enable the authority to use the franchising process more proactively in order to promote and secure a truly integrated transport system. All too often rail passengers find themselves stranded on arrival at the station because there are no connecting services. Train operators should be encouraged through the franchising process to explore with bus and other transport providers the possibility of them providing connecting services. Train operators should also make proper provision for disabled people.
Cycling is a means of transport that is environmentally friendly and healthy. It should be encouraged. The Government's downgrading of the previous government's targets for increasing cycle journeys was a retrograde step. At present, it is often difficult for cyclists to use trains.
Train operators should also be encouraged to make appropriate arrangements with Railtrack as to the provision of the kind of facilities at the station which are referred to in our proposed new Section 17(9) of the Railways Act 1993. As it is the authority which dictates the terms on which train companies operate, the authority should be encouraged to use the franchise system to address these issues. The Government's position is that these powers already exist. However, they are clearly not used. Perhaps inclusion in the Bill will encourage the SRA to use them.
I turn to Amendment No. 280. The Railways Act 1993 enables the regulator to secure access for an applicant to a railway facility such as a station. Such facilities include ancillary services, whether provided or procured by the facility owner. The new clause provides that such ancillary services can include those listed in the amendment.
The Government vaguely say that such matters are more of interest to the public than to the parties to the access contract. We say that that is short-sighted. If the transport system is to develop in the direction of greater integration, such facilities will have to be provided to enable the operating services to market their services more effectively. The amendment is a neat mechanism for enabling market pressure and competition to contribute to the development of an integrated transport system. I beg to move.
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood: My Lords, I admit to having some admiration for the amendment. If all the things required of the companies and Railtrack were actually done, the quality of the service would be infinitely improved.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, the noble Baroness has hit the nail on the head. I do not believe that all the details need to be on the face of the Bill but, my goodness, they are required. The weekend's crisis has been most telling. One friend tried to travel from Coventry to London but was told there were no trains on the West Coast line and none on the Chiltern line. He drove to Leamington Spa and discovered that there a train was running perfectly normally. It is impossible to underestimate the anger that the public feel when they are given such misinformation. My noble friend Lord Hardy of Wath told me a similar story. There were no trains to London from Doncaster all day, but then one arrived from Edinburgh. The railways must get it right even in a crisis, and the same applies to the buses. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will have some words of comfort.
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