HC Deb 08 July 2003 vol 408 cc684-5W
Miss McIntosh

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the level of compensation required by Network Rail to reimburse EWS for the loss of contract after March 2004; [R] [123768]

(2) what impact the payment of compensation to EWS will have on (a) the Strategic Rail Authority's budget and (b) the Ten Year Transport Plan for rail and road targets; [R] [123769]

(3) how the move from rail to road by Royal Mail deliveries will affect the targets in the Ten Year Transport Plan; and if he will make a statement; [R] [123770]

(4) when he was first informed that the Royal Mail would be terminating their contract for deliveries of mail by rail by EWS from April 2004; and what estimate he has made of the impact of transferring the delivery of mail from road to rail on (a) the number of road miles driven, (b) the length of journey times required and (c) the number of lorry journeys made; [R] [123771]

(5) what representations he has received on the delivering of Royal Mail post by road rather than rail after March 2004; and what estimate he has made of the likely impact of switching Royal Mail deliveries from rail to road. [123821]

Mr. McNulty

The terms of English Welsh and Scottish Railway's contracts with Royal Mail and Network Rail respectively are a matter for the companies involved. The Department for Transport was informed of Royal Mail's decision to withdraw from its contract with EWS shortly before its announcement. We have subsequently received a number of representations about the decision.

It is the Government's policy to promote a competitive and efficient distribution industry that supports economic growth while bringing benefits to society and the environment. Mail represents only a small part of total freight moved by rail. Royal Mail says that its new distribution strategy will reduce the total mileage covered by its road fleet and use around 2,000 fewer road vehicles.

The Strategic Rail Authority published its "Freight Progress Report" in May 2003, explaining achievements to date in facilitating more freight by rail and its plans for achieving the growth envisaged by the Government's Ten Year Plan for Transport. A copy of the report is in the Libraries of the House.