HC Deb 01 December 1986 vol 106 cc619-20
7. Mr. Raynsford

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what comparative studies have been carried out to the knowledge of his Department on the respective advantage of passenger-vehicle segregation as against passengers remaining with their vehicles on the Channel tunnel shuttle service, particularly from the point of view of safety in the tunnel.

Mr. David Mitchell

No comparative studies of this kind have been carried out. The Anglo-French bodies concerned with safety in the Channel tunnel will consider whether the arrangements that Eurotunnel has proposed are acceptable, rather than analysing variations which have not been proposed.

Mr. Raynsford

Does the Minister accept that there is considerable public concern on this issue and that it would be appropriate for comparative studies to be carried out to make sure that, whatever mode is proposed for transport through the Channel tunnel on the ferry vehicles, the safest possible mode of transport is employed? Does he also accept that Lord Pennock the chairman of Eurotunnel, has said that he would be perfectly happy for such evaluations to take place? Would it not therefore be sensible for the Government to agree an amendment to the Bill to allow that to happen?

Mr. Mitchell

I do not know how widespread is the public concern, although I am very much aware of the hon. Gentleman's concern. Naturally, safety is a vitally important part, to which considerable attention has been given. The safety authorities are gathering information worldwide on, for example, fires in tunnels, on board ships and in multi-storey car parks. They are gathering information with which to make a proper assessment when an application is made to them.

Mr. Simon Hughes

Will the Minister give authority for British Rail to release for publication the report comparing London termini for the Channel tunnel so that we may see the detail of what led British Rail to state that Waterloo was its preferred choice?

Mr. Mitchell

The release of internal British Rail documents is for British Rail to decide, but I will draw the chairman's attention to the hon. Gentleman's request.

Forward to