HC Deb 24 February 1970 vol 796 cc971-2
20. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Minister of Transport how many trains were derailed in the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available; what were the comparable figures in the same period five and ten years previously, respectively; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Murray

The provisional figure for reportable derailments on all railways in Great Britain during the twelve month period ending 31st January, 1970, is 418. Comparable figures for the 12-month periods ending 31st January, 1965, and 31st January, 1960, are 228 and 230 respectively.

The figures for passenger train derailments have remained fairly steady. The overall increase is wholly due to an increase in goods train derailments.

Mr. Taylor

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, having had such a substantial reduction in track mileage and in the number of trains running, it is a matter of real concern that derailments are continuing at such a high rate? Will he tell us when he expects the special steps announced in the summer to show some improvement?

Mr. Murray

I cannot give a date when we expect things to improve—[Laughter.] This is not a laughing matter. Derailments are serious. The hon. Gentleman, who is in the habit of speaking with his hand over his mouth, knows that we are tackling this problem. British Rail and the Railway Inspectorate are very concerned and they have introduced a series of measures which should, we hope, reduce the number of derailments.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Does my hon. Friend agree that, despite derailments, which are very serious, the accident rate on British railways continues to be good and to improve?

Mr. Murray

Yes, Sir.