§ Mr. Heddle
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, when he next meets the chairman of British Rail, he will raise with him the safety standards of the new class 455 electrical unit, with particular reference to the operation of the pneumatic sliding doors and fire prevention requirements; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
The safety standards of rolling stock on Brtish Railways is a matter for the British Railways Board. The Department's Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways has already raised with the board the disquiet felt by some passengers about the emergency evacuation arrangements in recent designs of electric multiple-unit trains, including the class 455. The board has to take into account the need for proper means of escape222W in an emergency and the need to protect passengers against the dangers of alighting on to lines which may be open to traffic and fitted with high-voltage conductor rails. Some improvements have already been made and the board is currently examining the whole question of emergency evacuation of sliding-door rolling stock.