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Railtrack

David Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps his Department has taken to encourage Railtrack to reverse its decision to withdraw from the redevelopment of Gourock station. [25434]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department has not taken any such steps. The future funding of redevelopment of Gourock station is under discussion between Railtrack, the Scottish Executive and the Strategic Rail Authority.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) whether the proposed company limited by guarantee will need to secure adequate commercial loan facilities to enable it to repay the commercial loan agreement between the Department and the Administrator simultaneously with the ending of the Railtrack administration; [24174]

Mr. Jamieson: It is for the CLG bid team, established under the sponsorship of the Strategic Rail Authority, to put a proposal to the Administrator. The repayment of the commercial loan from the Department to Railtrack plc in administration is a matter which all potential bidders will need to address in their proposals. It is for the Administrator to put a proposal for a transfer scheme before my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State based on any propositions he receives.

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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 13 December 2001, Official Report, column 1014W on Railtrack, if the Government's policy is to permit the disposal of Railtrack assets to secure the funds listed. [24255]

Mr. Jamieson: The cash advances of £1,228 million referred to in my answer of 13 December 2001, on Railtrack, are to be recouped from new debt, not from the realisation of assets.

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to bring forward proposals to establish a company limited by guarantee to take over the functions previously undertaken by Railtrack. [24138]

Mr. Jamieson: The timing of a proposal to the Administrator is a matter for the CLG bid team, established under the sponsorship of the Strategic Rail Authority. It is for the Administrator to put a proposal for a transfer scheme before my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State based on any propositions he receives. All potential bidders will be aware that both the Administrator and the Government are keen to keep the period of administration as short as possible.

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps Railtrack plc is taking to ensure that structural faults, with particular reference to the masonry of the Glottenham Lane overpass in Robertsbridge, are identified and repaired on the south eastern rail network. [22923]

Mr. Jamieson: I understand that Railtrack engineers will inspect the relevant overpass as soon as possible.

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many signal failures were reported in November on (a) the UK rail network, (b) Railtrack's southern zone, (c) the south eastern network and (d) Kent and Sussex; what the figures were for November 1997; and what steps have been taken to ensure that faults are identified and repaired before serious incidents arise. [22924]

Mr. Jamieson: I understand from Railtrack that the comparative information requested is not available.

Passenger Rail Franchises

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many passenger rail franchises he estimates will be contracted in line with the original timetable for renewals. [22896]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority has reviewed its plans for renewing franchises in light of the Secretary of State's Policy Statement on Passenger Rail Franchising. It announced its new franchising programme on 19 December 2001.

Railways (Winter Estimates)

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the change in gross provision for other railways in the winter estimates. [24122]

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Mr. Jamieson: The change in gross provision for other railways in the Winter Supplementary Estimates 2001–02 is explained in Section lvii on page 8 of those estimates.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will make a statement on the change in gross provision for the Strategic Rail Authority in the winter estimates; [24121]

Mr. Jamieson: The change in gross provision for the Strategic Rail Authority in the winter supplementary estimates 2001–02 is explained in section lxviii on page 9 of those estimates.

European Directive (Railways)

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will make a statement on the implications of Directive 91/440/EEC for the future structure of railways; [24173]

Mr. Jamieson: Directive 91/440/EEC, as amended by Directive 2001/12/EC, and Directive 2001/14/EC include a number of requirements concerning the relationships between the member state, managers of railway infrastructure, railway undertakings and a regulatory/ appeal body. The Government are taking these fully into account in decisions on the future management of railway infrastructure and any changes to railway regulation in the UK.

Channel Tunnel Rail Freight

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representation he has made of the European Commission concerning the impact on intra-community trade of the SNCF restriction of channel tunnel rail freight services. [24098]

Mr. Jamieson: As a result of contacts made directly by the freight operators, the European Commission has twice asked the French Government in the context of Regulation 2679/98 on the free movement of goods, what steps they are taking to resolve the problems caused by people entering the channel tunnel which has led to the disruption of freight traffic through it. The Government are monitoring developments and urging the French to take all necessary steps to resolve this issue.

Rail Safety

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions who has responsibility for (a) setting and (b) enforcing the maximum capacity of railway carriages in order to protect public safety. [24874]

Mr. Jamieson: Responsibility for monitoring overcrowding on commuter services rests with the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). The responsibility for the day to day safety, welfare and convenience of passengers using the railway rests with railway operating companies.

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There are no Health and Safety Regulations or absolute limits set on the numbers of passengers who may be carried as all rolling stock is designed to run safely at maximum capacity. Some train operating companies are required to carry out passenger counts on commuters to meet the passengers in excess of capacity (PIXC) limits set by the SRA.

Rail Privatisation

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will place in the Library the analysis that his Department has undertaken regarding the proportion of the cost and efficiency gains envisaged when the railways were first privatised that were eventually realised. [24910]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department has not undertaken such an analysis.

Train Drivers

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the minimum time is after which a newly recruited train driver would be permitted to drive a train (a) at present and (b) five years ago; in each case, whether they would be supervised; and for how long. [24992]

Mr. Jamieson: The current requirements recommend between 26 and 29 weeks of driver training before a newly recruited train driver is permitted to drive a train. The driver training period includes a minimum of 225 hours of practical driving under the constant supervision of a qualified instructor driver. Once a driver is deemed competent a two-year supervisory regime is put in place.

Five years ago, companies were training drivers on the basis of British Rail's training programme. In terms of duration, this programme was slightly shorter than now, although the basic components were similar to now.


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