HC Deb 29 October 1999 vol 336 cc1003-4W
Angela Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if there is an exemption order for the fleet of new trains to be introduced into service by Serco Metrolink in respect of any of the provisions of the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998; if he will list all exemption orders from the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 since 27 July; and if he will make a statement. [96954]

Mr. Hill

As my predecessor explained in her answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) on 9 March 1999,Official Report, column 167, we are expecting to receive a number of exemption applications from train and tram operating companies whose designs for new rail vehicles were well advanced prior to the 1998 Regulations coming into force.

We have received an application from Serco Metrolink relating to the new trams they wish to introduce on the Manchester Metrolink extension to Eccles via Salford Quays. The exemptions, which are of a very minor nature, have been discussed with our statutory advisers the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. An exemption Order relating to the exemption of these trams has been laid in Parliament today. Copies are available from the Library.

Applications for exemption from certain aspects of the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 have also been received from both South West Trains Ltd. for their Class 458 rail vehicles and ScotRail Railways Ltd. for their Class 170/4 rail vehicles. The exemptions sought were also discussed with the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. Exemption Orders relating to the South West Trains vehicles and the ScotRail vehicles were laid before Parliament on 3 September and 13 September respectively. Copies are also available from the Library.

The exemptions will not prevent disabled people from using the new trams or trains. Indeed, we believe that their introduction will make a significant contribution to improving mobility opportunities for disabled people.

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