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Written Question
Customs: Dover
11 Jan 2022

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, for the use of the remainder of the Government-controlled site adjacent to the Dover Inland Border Facility.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The Department is considering potential options for the Government owned land at the Dover Whitecliffs site which will not be required for the HMRC IBF infrastructure. No decisions have been made at this time.


Written Question
Roads: Accidents
20 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what obligation, if any, there is upon emergency services to alert a local authority where the condition of a road could be considered a causal factor in an incident they are called to attend.

Answered by Baroness Williams of Trafford

There are no requirements to share information but it is the Government’s expectation is that information should be shared – as appropriate - between emergency services and others in the public sector should an issue be identified that may cause a risk to the public.


Written Question
Travel: Quarantine
17 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average level of subsidy per person they provide to hotels to quarantine travellers entering the UK from red list countries; and what steps they take to ensure value for money.

Answered by Lord Kamall

From February to October 2021, the average level of subsidy per person to provide a managed quarantine service was 53%. During the period there was a decrease in number of destinations on the ‘red list’, therefore the number of hotel rooms for quarantine was reduced to reflect the lower demand from passengers and deliver better value for money.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Screening
16 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Kamall on 15 November (HL3205), how many companies have had their application to be listed as approved providers of COVID-19 PCR tests rejected; and how many approved providers have been subject to review based on complaints.

Answered by Lord Kamall

We do not hold data on the number of providers rejected for COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Accreditation is managed by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Data on the number of providers listed on GOV.UK subject to a review specifically based upon complaints is not held. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) supports private providers by encouraging best practice and improving compliance. The UKHSA conducts regular spot checks to ensure providers have met the conditions for selling COVID-19 tests and are meeting minimum standards.

Where the UKHSA becomes aware that a provider is no longer meeting the minimum standards or that the provider’s activities may risk public safety, it will require the provider to undertake remedial action. The UKHSA may remove a provider’s listing whilst remedial action is being undertaken.


Written Question
Railways: Fares
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact reducing rail fares would have on passenger numbers.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The Department takes guidance from the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook on the effects of changes to fares on rail demand.

While fares changes do impact total passenger numbers, there are also a number of other elements involved, including most notably at the moment the pandemic’s impact on passenger travel.


Written Question
Railways: Repairs and Maintenance
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether National Highways’ management of Historical Railways estate structures is in accordance with the best practice principles set out in the Conservation of Highways Structures standard; and what assessment they have made of the environmental impacts of infilling when selecting the preferred asset management option for each structure.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The Conservation of Highways Structures standard applies to listed or designated heritage assets.

Although this standard does not apply to much of the Historical Railways Estate, National Highways does manage the structures in accordance with the best practice principles set out in the standard.

National Highways is conducting heritage assessments on each of the Historical Railways Estate structures.

Management of the Estate is kept under constant review and there is an independent quarterly audit. National Highways undertakes repairs to hundreds of structures every year including works to listed structures. Infilling and demolition is a very small proportion (less than 5%) of the work that it does.

National Highways considers environmental issues, relating to ecology and biodiversity, when considering their asset management approach at any given structure. In many cases, National Highways will incorporate ecological features into the structure as part of the scheme e.g. bat hotels. National Highways removes invasive species and leave piles of clippings from trees and shrubs for use by mammals and reptiles.


Written Question
Railways: Repairs and Maintenance
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many, if any, National Highways contracts were awarded between 21 September and 25 October for preparatory works at structures that the Stakeholder Advisory Forum had not yet considered for infilling; and why preparatory works were undertaken after the pause on such works had been imposed.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

National Highways does not award individual contracts as it has overarching framework contracts in place with call off arrangements.

National Highways has not accepted prices on any preparatory works to specifically prepare for infilling activity between 21 September and 25 October .

National Highways has accepted prices to provide access for ecologists to undertake bat surveys at 12 structures and for a site investigation to be undertaken.

The pause has been applied to infill and demolition work. The only works that have occurred since have been to provide access for ecologists to undertake surveys or to remove vegetation.

National Highways removes vegetation for preventative maintenance reasons. This is something that National Highways is doing across the Historical Railways Estate. Undertaking ecological surveys is not preparatory work for infilling or demolition, it is part of the National Highways’ regular routine asset management approach.


Written Question
River Fords
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many river fords are on British roads; what records are kept about the location and numbers of river fords; and which authorities keep any such records.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The Department does not routinely collect this information. Any information that is held on fords on the local road network will be held by the relevant local authority.


Written Question
Railways: Tree Felling
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what policy Network Rail follows for the felling of trees alongside railway lines; what assessment they have made of the carbon impact of this policy; and what policy they have on replacing felled trees.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

Network Rail published its Biodiversity Action Plan in December 2020, committing to achieve biodiversity net gain by 2035, and setting out how it will manage lineside vegetation sustainably for safety, performance, the environment, and its customers and neighbours. Network Rail must balance these objectives to run a safe and reliable rail network whilst also supporting and enhancing lineside biodiversity. In some places it will be necessary to remove trees and other habitats that are not compatible with railway operations, but in other places Network Rail will establish habitats through planting and sustainable management. Following recent surveys and inspections of the estate, Network Rail is developing vegetation and habitat management plans to ensure any necessary vegetation management takes place at the best time of year. Network Rail is also developing a sustainable land use strategic framework which will consider aspects including carbon impacts to support net zero 2050.

Network Rail manages a vast estate, with an estimated six million trees, and approximately 23% woodland coverage, substantially higher than the average woodland coverage across Britain. In 2019, Network Rail pledged £1m to plant trees in communities across England over a four-year period with over 90,000 planted in the first planting season. Network Rail is also working with the Forestry Commission on a feasibility study for tree planting on land neighbouring the railway.


Written Question
Great British Railways
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the benefits of the Great British Railways programme when it comes into effect.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

Rail reform will deliver significant efficiency savings for government and the taxpayer in the long term. Benefits for passengers include:

  • Improved services with tough new contracts focused on getting the trains running punctually and reliably;
  • Improved ticketing options, providing commuters with significant savings;
  • Modern digital payment methods; and
  • Improved accessibility getting around stations and on and off trains.

The rail reform programme is expected to generate savings of approximately £1.5bn per year, five years post implementation. This is equivalent to 15% of the network’s pre-pandemic income.


Written Question
Network Rail: Cost Effectiveness
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial (1) efficiencies, and (2) inefficiencies, of Network Rail.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (the ORR), ensures that Network Rail’s plans include challenging but deliverable efficiency targets. This is a central part of securing Network Rail’s funding through the Periodic Review process for each Control Period.

The ORR continuously monitors Network Rail’s delivery of efficiencies against its efficiency plans throughout each Control Period and publishes an annual assessment of Network Rail’s efficiency and financial performance, the most recent of which was published in July 2021 and can be found on the ORR’s website.


Written Question
Railways: Commuters
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of recent change in the number of (1) rail commuters, compared to (2) leisure travel passengers; and what steps they taking to increase the number of rail commuters.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

Rail was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in November 2021, rail journey numbers had recovered to approximately 70% levels of an equivalent day in the previous year.

The Department publish National Statistics on rail journeys by purpose (including commuting, business, and leisure) in the National Travel Survey. The latest data is for calendar year 2020 and show a fall in the proportion of all journeys which are for commuting (summarised in the table below). The data shows that commuting traffic has been slower to recover than leisure demand.

Table 1: Given journey purpose as a percentage of all rail journeys, and number of trips made per person per year by purpose, in England.

Year

Commuters as a percentage of rail users

Commuting trips per person per year

Leisure trip users as a percentage of rail users

Leisure trips per person per year

2017

47%

10

25%

5

2018

47%

10

26%

6

2019

47%

10

26%

6

2020

37%

4

27%

3

Source: (Table NTS0409).

Transport Focus publishes results of a survey which includes breakdowns of rail journeys by purpose throughout 2021. This survey estimates that throughout November 2021, the proportion of rail journeys that are for commuting are approximately one-third. It should be noted that the sample-size is relatively small at circa 480 per week.

The government is working with the rail industry to develop a number of recovery initiatives, focused on restoring passenger confidence in travelling by rail including for commuting journeys. Including introducing flexible season tickets across England this year, tickets launched on the 21 June and became available for use on the 28 June. This is a national product, priced to provide better value and convenience for commuters travelling two to three days a week.


Written Question
Public Transport
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial implications for public transport providers from the reduction in commuters using public transport due to the increase in home working; and what assessment have they made of the implications for the future of public transport.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

During the pandemic £14bn of financial support has been provided to the rail sector, while £1.5bn in emergency funding was provided to bus operators and Local Transport Authorities through the Coronavirus Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG), which was in operation between March 2020 and August 2021. CBSSG helped ensure services remained available for those who needed them most.

We also acknowledge the need to respond to new ways of working post-pandemic. That’s why we have introduced flexible season tickets across the rail network in England this year. This is a national product, priced to provide better value and convenience for commuters travelling two to three days a week. We are working with the rail industry to develop a number of recovery initiatives, focused on restoring passenger confidence in travelling by rail.

Whilst a significant proportion of bus passengers have returned after restrictions were lifted, recognising the financial challenges faced by the sector during this transitional period, the government is providing an additional £226.5m in funding to the sector through the Bus Recovery Grant. This will help operators to continue to run a high level of service, maintain networks and attract passengers back on board.


Written Question
High Speed 2 Railway Line
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a cost-benefit analysis was undertaken for (1) the Eastern leg of HS2, and (2) HS2 Phase 2B West, prior to their decision to cancel those rail projects; and whether they will publish the financial analysis which was undertaken prior that decision.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The Government has not cancelled either the Western Leg or Eastern Leg of HS2 Phase 2b. The Integrated Rail Plan sets out that HS2 will be built from Crewe to Manchester, and from the West Midlands to East Midlands Parkway. In addition, £100m has been provided to include work on looking at the best way to take HS2 trains to Leeds The Government will publish an updated Strategic Outline Business Case for Phase 2b Western Leg alongside the deposit of the Western Leg hybrid bill in early 2022.


Written Question
Railways: Scotland
15 Dec 2021

Questioner: Baroness Randerson (LDEM - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the Integrated Rail Plan on rail journey times to Scotland.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The core pipeline set out in the Integrated Rail Plan, which includes completing HS2 Phases One and 2a and completing HS2 Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester, including the link to the West Coast Main Line, will help reduce journey times between England and Scotland. Birmingham and London to Glasgow and Edinburgh could be cut by between 40 and 50 minutes compared to today. In addition, the package of upgrades to the East Coast Main Line will separately improve journey times for services to Edinburgh from London King’s Cross. Journey times could be cut by 25 minutes compared to today depending on stopping patterns. The recent Union Connectivity Review also considered the reduction of rail journey times to Scotland.