PACTS Comments on Parliamentary Questions: 17th – 18th Jan 2011
PACTS comments: While Great Britain has achieved steady reductions in recent years in the number of fatal casualties as a result of road traffic accidents, the number of cyclists killed has fluctuated. To help combat this problem, road safety professionals support rate-based targets for casualty reduction, i.e. rate of death per a quantity of km cycled. This allows separate analysis of cyclist deaths, and avoids the potential tactic of discouraging cyclists and pushing them towards the relative safety of cars and public transport in order to reduce fatalities. A rate based target shows a commitment to make cycling safer, without discouraging people from using their preferred mode of transport.
Other Written Answers from this week:
Roads: Safety Barriers
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department has undertaken on the cost-effectiveness of concrete central reservation barriers compared with metal barriers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mike Penning: A whole life cost study was carried out by the Highways Agency in 2004. The report, entitled “Whole Life Cost Analysis for Median Safety Barriers”, led to the decision by the Highways Agency to introduce the policy for concrete barriers in the central reserve on motorways. The policy was implemented by an Interim Advice Note IAN 60/05 in January 2005. This policy was taken forward as a full standard in TD 19/06, the Requirements for Road Restraint Systems, in April 2007 and included in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges. I am placing copies of these documents in the Libraries of the House.
Humber Bridge: Snow and Ice
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who is responsible for clearing snow from the highway over the Humber Bridge during bad weather; for what reason both lanes in each direction were not cleared of snow on 28 November 2010; whether consideration was given to not charging the full toll to motorists using the bridge in this state; and if he will make a statement. 
Norman Baker: Snow clearance and toll reductions during extreme weather are a matter for the Humber Bridge Board. The Board has informed me that the extreme weather conditions on 28 November, made it impractical to ensure the road surface of the Humber Bridge was entirely free of snow. The bridge was, however, passable throughout this period although local police forces imposed their own restrictions on some roads giving access to the bridge.
Humber Bridge: Speed Limits
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who decides (a) when temporary speed limits are to be imposed on the Humber Bridge crossing and (b) what such speed limits should be; whether a review mechanism of such decisions is in place to ensure that a low speed limit is not unnecessarily imposed; and if he will make a statement. 
Norman Baker: The Humber Bridge Board has responsibility for any temporary speed limits and the limit at which they are set. Temporary speed limits are imposed by the Board on the Humber Bridge to ensure the safety of users of the bridge in adverse conditions including bad weather and work requiring traffic management. The Board has in place detailed written procedures formulated with consideration of national precedents and historical experience at the bridge, which allows the speed limits to be set at an appropriate level. These restrictions are reviewed in real time and modified or removed as appropriate.
Motorways: Speed Limits
Junction 4 North (Waterton Bridge): commenced 20 December for 13 weeks.
Junction 3 North: commenced 18 October for 16 weeks.
Junction 2 to 3: commenced 20 December for 10 weeks.
In addition to the safety barrier works, work has also commenced at the A1 (M)/M18 Wadworth Interchange (M18 Junction 2) to install traffic signals. This is also due to be completed by the end of March 2011.
Bus Services: Disability Awareness Training
It is expected that under the proposed EU regulation on bus and coach passenger rights that operators would be required to ensure their personnel, including drivers, dealing directly with the travelling public have disability awareness training. Negotiation of that regulation should conclude in the next few months.
Dartford-Thurrock Crossing: Accidents
Mike Penning: Accidents are recorded using Stats 19 (Police) Data and includes all collisions where injuries are reported. Using validated Stats 19 Data, the recorded collisions for the A282 (which includes the Dartford Crossing) for the last eight years is:
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the (a)adequacy of and (b) consistency in support available to disabled rail passengers across the rail network. 
Norman Baker: Assessment of the adequacy and consistency of services provided to rail passengers is primarily a matter for Passenger Focus and the Office of Rail Regulation. However, we expect all rail service providers to meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010, and the commitments in their Disabled People’s Protection Policy, and to make all reasonable endeavours to meet the needs of their passengers.
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport has not carried out an assessment of the support available to disabled rail passengers who choose to travel at short notice. However, we expect all rail operators to meet the commitments in their Disabled People’s Protection Policy, as well as their duties under the Equality Act 2010, and to make all reasonable endeavours to meet the needs of their disabled passengers.
We recognise that rail operators are better able to plan their resources to meet passengers needs if assistance is booked in advance using the Assisted Passenger Reservation System. The Department for Transport has agreed to provide funding to the Association of Train Operators to improve the arrangements in place for assistance bookings. We expect trials of the new system to start during 2011.
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the likely effect on support for disabled rail passengers of the ending of the Disabled Persons Advisory Committee. 
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport’s proposals have been through a preliminary impact assessment process, including an equalities impact
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assessment. Full impact assessment documents will be published as part of the consultation process in the coming months.
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will undertake an equality impact assessment of the effects on (a) disabled rail passengers and (b) other disabled users of transport services of the abolition of the Disabled Persons Advisory Committee. 
Norman Baker: The training of rail staff is a matter for train operators: not the Department for Transport. However, the Department does require that all staff receive relevant disability awareness training as part of an operator’s Disabled People’s Protection Policy, which is a condition of their operating licence.
Railways: Snow and Ice
Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to revise his Department’s guidance to local authorities on transport infrastructure in the light of the recent severe weather conditions; and if he will make a statement. 
Norman Baker: The Secretary of State for Transport, with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, wrote on 12 November 2010 to the leaders of all English local authorities. This letter advised on the measures the Government have taken to implement the recommendations following David Quarmby’s independent review on winter resilience, published in October 2010, and drew attention to the recommendations in the review panel’s report which were addressed to local authorities to take forward.
I wrote to leaders of all local highway authorities in England on 15 December 2010 and emphasised the importance of working together to keep our transport network moving given the early onset of severe weather this winter.
I reminded them of the guidance produced by the Department with the UK Roads Liaison Group (UKRLG) on the range of actions that can be taken with regards to winter service and measures to ensure that salt stocks last longer.
On 24 December, officials from the Department for Transport wrote to the chief executives of all local highway authorities highlighting the conclusions and recommendations of David Quarmby’s further independent audit published on 21 December 2010. This audit looked at how well the transport system coped following the extreme weather which occurred between 24 November and 9 December last year.
This letter also attached further technical guidance in relation to spread rates for salt, as recommended by David Quarmby. It also stressed the importance of local authorities implementing the recommendations
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from David Quarmby’s October report and December audit, including reviewing their own winter service plans and operations accordingly against best practice.
My Department will continue to work throughout the year with the local government sector to ensure that we continue to further improve resilience for future winters. This may include updating and providing further guidance if required.
Roads: Snow and Ice
Nick Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will allocate additional funding to (a) local authorities and (b) the Welsh Assembly Government for repair of pot holes attributable to recent severe snowfalls. 
Norman Baker: The Government have already committed to providing over £3 billion of capital to local authorities in England for road maintenance over the next four years, reflecting the economic and social importance of local roads.
The funding of road maintenance in Wales is a devolved matter and therefore the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly Government. The Welsh Assembly Government receive funding through a block grant from HM Treasury and are able to determine the allocation of public expenditure between the services under their control.
Mike Penning: The Secretary of State for Transport has not given any consideration to the use of Heavy Rescue Partnership vehicles as the Highways Agency have their own National Vehicle Recovery Manager contract in place for the motorway network.
The Highways Agency’s National Vehicle Recovery Manager Contract reflects the geographical Strategic Road Network (SRN) coverage of the Traffic Officer Service (TOS). All other parts of the SRN are covered by recovery contracts managed by the Police. On these roads, the Police use their own statutory powers and contracts to manage the recovery of vehicles.