HC Deb 08 April 1982 vol 21 cc475-6W
Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if, in view of the fact that the Army bomb disposal unit was called to the recent incident at Acton Grange Viaduct, Stockton Heath, near Warrington, he will now take steps to cease the transportation of explosives through the area.

(2) if, in view of the derailment at Acton Grange Viaduct, Stockton Heath, near Warrington, he will now take immediate steps to examine the railways in the area and set up an inquiry into the transport of hazardous and dangerous substances.

Mr. Eyre

The responsibility for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the railways rests with the British Railways Board and this includes any examination of the railway that may be necessary in order to discharge their statutory responsibility for the safe and efficient management of the railway.

The derailment of 31 March 1982 has been reported to the Department and is being investigated by the Railway Inspectorate, which may make recommendations to the board designed to prevent a recurrence. The derailed wagon remained upright and no one was injured. Full precautions were taken.

The movement of dangerous goods and explosives is an every day occurrence on the railways and the fact that two accidents have occurred in the Warrington area within a month is fortuitous; one occurred in sidings and the other on the main line. The number of freight train derailments has been falling for more than a decade, from 5.43 per million train miles in 1969 to 2.58 in 1980.

The movement of dangerous goods by rail can be considered very safe in view of the railways' excellent safety record and the strict rules that govern this traffic. There is no evidence to suggest that an Inquiry is necessary or that there should be any special restriction on the movement of explosives through the Warrington area.