HC Deb 15 December 1997 vol 303 cc34-5W
Mr. Soley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will call for a report on the Railtrack TOWS system in respect of(a) its safety and (b) noise pollution; and if he will make a statement. [20154]

Ms Glenda Jackson

TOWS (Track Operating Warning System) is an essential piece of equipment to protect staff working on or near railway tracks by providing an audible warning. It is generally installed in settings where other methods such as posting a look-out would be dangerous. It is switched on as necessary by staff who are going to work on the track protected by the system and turned off when leaving the site. When it is not reasonably practicable to stop trains running before carrying out routine inspection or maintenance work, TOWS is the preferred system used for ensuring staff safety.

I am advised by the Health and Safety Executive's Railway Inspectorate that TOWS emits sound at a level necessary for its function and HSE is not aware of any widespread concern over any ancillary noise nuisance, which would be a matter of the Local Authority to purse. I see no need to call for a report on TOWS.