HC Deb 11 March 1997 vol 292 cc143-4W
Mr. Llwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the advantages of fitting the automatic train protector system to locomotives; and if he will make a statement. [19666]

Mr. Watts

On 30 March 1995 the then Secretary of State for Transport announced that the Government had concluded, on the basis of independent advice from the Health and Safety Commission, that applications of automatic train protection—ATP—may be justified on certain parts of the rail network. Advice received from both the British Railways Board and Railtrack, and endorsed by HSC, confirmed that network-wide fitment of ATP, as piloted, was not reasonably practicable, because the costs far outweighed the benefits and that there were alternative safety investments which would be likely to yield greater effectiveness in terms of lives saved, and be better value for money. This information was subsequently published in "Railways Safety", HM chief inspecting officer of railways' annual report on the safety record of the railways in Great Britain during 1994–95, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Railtrack remains committed to a co-ordinated programme to reduce the risks of ATP preventable accidents. These measures comprise Railtrack's train protection strategy and are described in a letter from the chairman of Railtrack dated 21 November 1995, which was placed in the Library of the House on 29 November 1995. The strategy includes a driver reminder appliance—DRA—due to be installed in train cabs during 1997 and completed in 1998, and a train protection warning system—TPWS—due to be piloted in 1997 and to commence installation by early 1998. Subject to technical feasibility and the test of reasonable practicability, TPWS will be installed at those locations assessed by Railtrack to be at greatest risk of ATP preventable accidents.

In the longer term, ATP measures will be included in the Heathrow express route, the west coast main line modernisation scheme, the channel tunnel rail link and any future high speed lines. The Great Western and Chiltern line pilot schemes will continue. In addition, full consideration will be given by Railtrack to the option of including ATP functions in all future major resignalling schemes.