Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (PAC 00-01/176)


  British Waterways has a responsibility to preserve public access to towpaths and an obligation to keep them safe for users, though it does not have a legal obligation to maintain them. It raises funds for the maintenance of towpaths through maintenance agreements with local authorities reflecting the amenity which they provide for the general public. British Waterways introduced an annual charge for cycling by adults using the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath as a pilot scheme in 1997. It proposes to abolish this arrangement when the local authorities agree to contribute to the maintenance of the towpath.


  The Department has not approached Railtrack about establishing cycle tracks adjacent to operational railway lines. Such tracks have been established successfully in some places but there needs to be secure separation between cyclists and the railway. Whether it is appropriate for a cycle track to be co-located with a railway is very much a matter for local judgement. If local authorities believe that the line of an operational railway could provide an essential link in a cycle route or network, then it is open to them to explore the possibilities with Railtrack.


4 May 2001

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