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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

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SRA. The SRA would secure the provision of substitute services only in the rare event of it operating as an operator of last resort. I agree that call-off contracts could be made in case they are needed. But it would hard to predict where and when, if ever, the SRA might need to act as an operator of last resort. In any case, the SRA will be bound by the general provisions where it is so acting. Therefore, the amendment is inappropriately targeted. Where there is an ongoing provision for substitute services, virtually all of them would be likely to be procured by competitive tendering by the operators.

With those explanations and reassurances, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

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.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 205 [Strategies]:

[Amendment No. 238 not moved.]

Clause 206 [Manner of exercise of functions]:

Lord Brabazon of Tara moved Amendment No. 239:

    Page 121, line 4, at end insert ("including those which involve the use of other forms of transport in conjunction with railway services and the integration of the railway information and ticket booking facilities").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 259 and 280. Subsection (2) of Clause 206 sets out the objectives of the authority in exercising its functions and includes the promotion of through ticketing between passenger service operators. It does not appear to cover through ticketing across different forms of transport. The amendment makes explicit the need to promote such through ticketing schemes. Eagle-eyed noble Lords will have noticed that subsection (2)(d) provides for the promotion of integrated information and ticket booking facilities. However, no mention is made of different modes of travel, so it does not refer to integration with bus, air or sea travel.

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

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times of trains, up to date information on their running, the range of fares and the cheapest for the particular journey, similar information on the bus, air and other connections and the ticket itself. It should be a major priority for the authority to encourage such systems.

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:

    "The Authority shall exercise its functions with a view to furthering its purposes".

The purposes are laid out in Clause 204 and there is very little difference between them and the matters mentioned in subsection (2). In other words, the subsection is redundant. As it is, by ignoring the interface between rail and other means of transport, which is where the biggest holes are at the moment, the subsection sends the wrong message that this matters less than inter-rail integration.

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.

If the transport system is to be truly integrated, people arriving at stations need information not only as to train services but also about connecting bus and

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other services as covered by my Amendment No. 259. They need to be able to buy tickets that cover their entire journey, preferably by means of new technology which combines fare and travel information with provision of a ticket. If arriving by car or bike or on foot, they need proper directions--this element will build on the memorandum of understanding between Railtrack and the Highways Agency--and somewhere to park securely. Poor and insecure car parking facilities are something that the industry is addressing, but more work needs to be done. People should be encouraged by the availability of cycle hire facilities to leave their cars at home. There should also be good, comfortable waiting areas, especially at night. If disabled, they need good access and facilities. These are all matters which are relevant to the arrangements between train operators and Railtrack and it should be made explicit that they fall within the ambit of the regulator's powers in relation to access contracts.

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.

7.30 p.m.

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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