HC Deb 20 December 1989 vol 164 cc277-8W
Mr. Carrington

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is yet in a position to announce safety and quality of service objectives for London Regional Transport.

Mr. Parkinson

I have today written to the chairman of London Regional Transport in the following termsMy predecessor wrote to you on your appointment about the challenges facing London Regional Transport. He asked you to prepare a strategy for the coming years, which could be used as a basis for setting formal objectives for you and your board. Your response takes the form of the 'Chairman's Planning Statement', which you are about to publish. In the light of that statement, I am writing to you about the safety and quality of service objectives I wish you to pursue. Before 1 April 1990 I shall settle with you the financial objectives for LRT covering the next three financial years.

Safety LRT and its subsidiaries are responsible for the safe operation of the services they provide. The Fennell Report on the Kings Cross fire underlined the need to give the highest priority to safety and to address safety matters explicitly in all LRT's activities. You have undertaken with vigour the task of implementing the Fennell Report's recommendations. You have already fully implemented 73 of the 127 recommendations addressed to LRT or London Underground, and have in hand action on the remaining 54. You have also now established a clear framework for collecting statistics on safety performance, setting safety objectives and monitoring and auditing safety performance at every level of the organisation. This should ensure the progressive improvement in the safety of all the services you provide or secure. I welcome the steps you have taken. I hereby endorse the safety objectives set out in annex A to this letter.

Quality of service on the Underground Demand for Underground services has grown by more than 70 per cent. since 1982. This has put the Underground under strain and we are all agreed that the quality of service for passengers is not as good as it should be. Much of passengers' dissatisfaction stems from overcrowding. The only way to deal adequately with the growth in demand is to invest in increasing the capacity of the system. This is why approval has been given for a massive investment programme, including the £900 million major upgrading programme and the extension of the Jubilee Line to service East London and Docklands. Urgent work is in progress on the options for another major new line to relieve congestion. In the shorter term, we must ensure that the most is made of the existing system. I am therefore setting objectives for improvement in such areas as peak capacity, reliability and the availability of lifts and escalators. I shall look to London Underground to meet these as soon as possible and, in any case, no later than 31 March 1992. These objectives are set out in full at annex B to the letter.

Copies of the annexes to this letter have been placed in the House Libraries.

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