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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Deputy Prime Minister's comments do not apply to Northern Ireland Railways. However, the Government acknowledge the need for Northern Ireland Railways' slam door carriages either to be replaced or to have electric locks fitted as soon as possible. The timescale cannot be determined until the outcome of this year's Spending Review is known.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Railway Task Force is undertaking a consultation exercise, inviting all interested parties or individuals to make their views known. Should the Government of the Republic of Ireland wish to present its views, these will be fully considered by the Task Force.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Figures available from Translink show that the cross-border rail patronage for 1995-96 was 810,600 and that the cross-border rail patronage for 1998-99 was 846,997. This gives the advised percentage increase of 4.5.
|Years||Patronage increase/decrease %|
|Between 1995/96 and 1996/97||Decrease of 15.4|
|Between 1996/97 and 1997/98||Increase of 21|
|Between 1997/98 and 1998/99||Increase of 2.07|
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Translink has advised that the recent trials involving the transportation of timber from the Republic of Ireland to Londonderry were part of a pilot study to assess the feasibility of transporting timber from Irish Forestry Commission areas in North West Donegal to Londonderry and from there to Belfast, Limerick and Waterford via the rail network. Negotiations on this matter remain ongoing and no proposals have been made.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: It would be a matter for the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company to apply for European funding for the relaying of the railway line from Belfast to Larne. The company has not submitted any such application, largely because it has accorded other parts of the network greater priority for the limited amount of European funding available.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Translink has provided the following details, which relate to all track renewed, with approximate costs, for each of the last 10 years. Translink has advised, however, that around 1992 the annual track replacement scheme was amalgamated with capital projects relating to track renewal. Therefore the information post-1992 relates to both.
|Year||Miles||£ Cost (approximate)|
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Translink have advised that, with the continuing lack of progress on the provision of the access road to the proposed new railway station site by the private sector developer, they are currently investigating other options.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Yes. As part of its deliberations, the task force has been considering the methodology to be used in evaluating the options it will consider. It has been agreed that the method to be adopted will take social and environmental aspects fully into account.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: European funding has been available for public transport in Northern Ireland through the Transportation Sub-Programme of the Northern Ireland Single Programme 1994-1999 and the joint INTERREG Programme for Northern Ireland and Ireland 1994-1999.
Negotiations are in progress between the European Commission and relevant Northern Ireland Departments about European funding for the period 2000-2006. It is too early to invite applications for European funding for this period.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I am satisfied that the current structure of the Northern Ireland Department for Regional Development is adequate to address the significant transport issues, involving both public and private transport, including railways, as evidenced in Moving Forward, the Northern Ireland Transport Policy Statement published in November 1998.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Transport policy in Northern Ireland is a transferred matter under the Northern Ireland Acts 1973 and 1998, so decisions in this area are a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive or Northern Ireland Office Ministers in their absence.
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