§ Mr. PrescottTo ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what was the total amount of significant collisions on the railways recorded for the years 1982 and 1987; and what percentage change this represents;

(2) what is the total of significant derailments on the railway recorded for the years 1982 and 1987; and what percentage change it represents.

§ Mr. ChannonThe information requested is available in tables 2 and 3 of the chief inspecting officer of railways' annual report for 1987. There were 54 significant collisions in 1982 and 64 in 1987; an increase of 18.5 per cent. In 1982 there were 129 significant derailments, and 136 in 1987: an increase of 5 per cent.

Comparison of individual years can be misleading because, with the relatively small numbers involved, wide fluctuations from year to year can occur. The number of collisions in 1987 was actually three less than in 1986, the number of derailments three more. A clearer picture can be obtained by comparing the number of accidents in a year with the average over the previous five years. The average number of collisions given in table 2 is 61; and of derailments (table 3), 134.

Other factors can also influence the number of accidents. Because of the railway strike in that year, 1982 is not a good year for comparison. In 1982 the number of train miles (263 million) was 7 per cent. less than in 1987 (283 million). The average for the years 1982 to 1986 was 281 million train miles.