§ Mr. Don Foster
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps were taken by the Government(a) prior to 1 May 1997, (b) between 1 May 1997 and 24 February 1999 and (c) since 25 February 1999 to ensure adequate numbers of trained train drivers within the railway industry; and if he will make a statement. 320W
§ Mr. Jamieson
When franchises were originally let in 1996 the purpose of the Government at the time was to give train operators full discretion and responsibility for providing resources, including drivers, to meet their obligations. In November 1998 the Government held a meeting with Railtrack and the train operating companies to discuss the poor performance of the industry and to agree a plan to deliver solutions. Part of that plan included the recruitment and training of 800 new drivers. The SRA is currently encouraging train operators to recruit sufficient drivers to meet their service obligations. In some cases the extension or replacement of franchise agreements will enable the SRA to contractualise measures to ensure adequate numbers.