HC Deb 03 February 1960 vol 616 cc989-90
19. Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the fact that there have been over 1,000 accidents in each of the years since nationalisation, what conclusions have been drawn by his inspectors as to the main causes of railway accidents; and what action his Department has taken with regard to those conclusions.

Mr. Marples

An analysis of all train accidents by causes is given in the Annual Reports of the Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways, which are available in the Library.

Regarding the second part of the Question, the inspecting officers of railways are in constant touch with the British Transport Commission, and are always available for consultation on measures to maintain and improve the high standard of safety on railways.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Is my right hon. Friend aware that accidents are now so frequent on British Railways that people have become increasingly anxious about travelling in the front or rear part of the trains? Would my right hon. Friend consider issuing danger tickets or tickets at reduced rates for those who are prepared to risk it in the front or rear coaches?

Mr. Marples

I cannot agree with the assumptions of my hon. and gallant Friend.

Mr. Manuel

Would the right hon. Gentleman inform his most misinformed hon. and gallant Friend that British Railways are still the safest in the world, and that, because of the safety precautions by the men who are driving the trains, which are very often delayed by fog and signal instructions, trains could be late in trying to run safely?

Mr. Marples

There is one point which I ought to add. The modernisation plan will not only modernise and electrify the railways, but will bring in the automatic warning system, so that the incon- venience which people will, necessarily, have to suffer in the next 18 months or two years, when travelling to the North and North-West of England, will, in the end, bring quicker and safer trains.

Mr. John Hynd

Will not the Minister confirm that the records and the inspectors' reports since the war show that there has been a progressive decrease in the number of railway accidents, particularly those involving injury to passengers and staff, and that that is a great tribute to the progress made as a result of the careful inspections and reports?

Mr. Marples

If the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question on that subject, I will answer it in detail.