Ports are a vital link in the supply chain to and from our trading partners and must be integrated with wider transport networks. The aims of our policy will be to:
promote UK and regional competitiveness by encouraging reliable and efficient distribution and access to markets;
enhance environmental and operational performance by encouraging the provision of multi-modal access to markets;
make the best use of existing infrastructure, in preference to expansion wherever practicable;
promote best environmental standards in the design and operation of ports, including where new development is justified.
The Strategic Rail Authority will be responsible for reviewing the scope for improving rail access to major ports, in consultation with Railtrack, the rail freight industry, port owners and shippers. Some improvements have already been made or planned - for example, Railtrack has started work on increasing capacity on the routes to Southampton and Felixstowe. The Strategic Rail Authority will need to consider whether further improvements are feasible and, if they are not commercially viable, whether it is justified to give some support from its own budget.
As port expansion can have significant effects on sensitive marine environments we will encourage the ports industry to invest in measures to deal with increased demand whilst avoiding the physical expansion of port land. English Nature is developing best practice on coastal management which will cover the role of ports.
The European Commission has recently published a Green Paper on ports and maritime infrastructure21 which states that the main objectives for ports should be to increase their efficiency and improve infrastructure by integrating ports into the multi-modal Trans-European Networks (TENs) and to ensure free and fair competition. We strongly support the Commission's proposals, recognising the importance of environmental issues in port development.
We will continue to work with the EU on the development of TENs. Our approach will be to seek to ensure that funding is directed at proposals which demonstrably further both European and UK transport objectives; and in particular shift passengers and freight from road to rail.
We will continue to make the best use of European funding of TENs in support of projects that help to improve strategic transport links between the UK and the rest of Europe. For at least the duration of this Parliament, we will continue to bid for support for the UK's two high-speed rail priority projects - the West Coast Main Line modernisation and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. In addition, opportunities will be explored for gaining support from the TENs budget towards other worthwhile projects that support our integrated transport policy.
Channel Tunnel Rail Link
Public-private partnerships are back on track with the revised agreement to build the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and operate the Eurostar service. £1.8 billion of Government grant will be complemented by £3.7 billion of private funding, which in a unique ground-breaking development will be raised through Government backed bonds. The link will be built in two phases and should be completed by 2007. The deal will deliver:
a dedicated high speed railway for Channel Tunnel traffic, providing a strategic economic artery for international and domestic passengers and freight;
a new international and domestic multi-modal transport interchange centred on Heathrow airport, providing an international gateway for rail services across the UK;
over £3 billion of economic, transport and environment benefits including a major boost to the economic regeneration of North Kent and the Thames Gateway.
The Channel Tunnel Rail Link is a tangible example of our commitment to integrate national and international transport systems.
Reform of the railways across Europe is essential if rail is to deliver seamless and sustainable trans-European services capable of serving the needs of the Single Market. We welcome and will continue to press for progress towards the implementation of the recommendations set out in the European Commission's 1996 White Paper "A Strategy for Revitalising the Community's Railways".
Last November we secured important rail freight commitments from Eurotunnel and the French Government as part of the price for agreeing to an extension of Eurotunnel's concession. The deal includes agreement by the French Government to establish rail freight corridors to give international freight a higher priority. This package will help to realise the full potential of the Channel Tunnel for long distance rail freight.
The numbers killed on our roads are equivalent to 30 average commercial22 aircraft, fully loaded, crashing in the UK every year. But because road casualties occur only a few at a time they are not always noticed as much as aircraft or train disasters where, overall, the number of people killed is very much lower.
In 1987 a target was set to reduce road traffic casualties by a third by the year 2000 compared to the average for 1981-85 and this had a major influence in raising the profile of road safety. By 1997 the number of deaths on the road had fallen by 36% to 3,599 and the number of serious casualties had declined by 42% to 42,967. The total number of casualties has, however, not gone down, standing at 327,544.
In our Manifesto, we said that we would make road safety a high priority, that cycling and walking must be made safer especially around schools. As part of the New Deal for transport we will set a new road safety target for Great Britain for 201023 which we shall publish later this year. We will at the same time set out a strategy and programme of measures for achieving it.
To improve road safety and save lives, action must be taken across a number of fronts - including improvements in the behaviour of drivers, riders and pedestrians; enhancements in vehicle safety; better roads and road engineering; and better enforcement. It will also require the positive co-operation of many organisations, including local authorities; the police; schools; the motor manufacturers; and indeed all road users themselves and their associations. One of the main elements of the strategy will be to involve all these agencies in the achievement of the new target. We do not want to make roads safer by simply discouraging vulnerable groups from venturing on to roads.
Improving road safety
reviewing the driving test and driver training, to develop a more effective test and better training techniques;
improving road safety education in schools and by parents, by assessing the effectiveness of existing training aids and developing new ones;
assessing local measures to achieve safer routes to school, and producing a best practice guide;
surveying potential measures to ensure better compliance with speed limits in urban areas and on rural roads - the two most dangerous types of road;
research into measures to improve vehicle safety and to ensure that they give maximum protection to occupants and minimise injury to pedestrians and cyclists.
We wish particularly to improve the safety of more vulnerable road users, including pedestrians (particularly children), cyclists and motorcyclists, in a way that is consistent with encouraging more cycling and walking. We want our children to be able to walk to school in safety: initiatives supporting safer routes to school will support both safety and environmental aims.
We will look at how to improve the safety of novice drivers - who are involved in nearly a fifth of the total number of casualty accidents - and at measures to reduce speed related accidents. Speed is thought to be a factor in about a third of all casualty accidents. In partnership with industry, we will encourage better driving by professional drivers - both lorry and bus drivers and those driving company cars on business (who are disproportionately involved in accidents).
Drink-driving is still a major cause of deaths, and we have consulted recently on proposals for a package of measures to combat this continuing problem24. These included possible measures to improve enforcement and education and we sought views on whether the current legal blood alcohol limit of some 80mg per 100ml should be reduced to 50mg. In the light of the responses to the consultation, we hope to announce our conclusions later this year.
Another major theme will be the scope for improving safety through the better enforcement of existing regulations.
Measures to improve road safety will also contribute to the efforts towards the proposed target in our Green Paper "Our Healthier Nation", to reduce the number of major accidents from all causes by one-fifth by 2010. All the relevant Government departments are collaborating to ensure consistency of approach on this.
The EU also has a role in promoting road safety. Amongst other things, it plays an important role in establishing technical standards for vehicles and has set up a number of working groups which have produced proposals on further measures to improve safety. We will continue to work with the EU on road safety initiatives, in particular on the development of higher vehicle safety standards, including those which minimise the impact of collisions on vulnerable road users.
Working within the European Union
supporting the FIA's "10 seconds which could save your life" campaign aimed at seat belt wearing and other safety measures;
looking with the European Commission at EU-wide regulation of car advertising on TV using the UK's voluntary code of practice as a model. The code requires that adverts
should not encourage or condone dangerous, inconsistent or competitive driving practices or breaches of the Highway Code
should not portray speed in ways which might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly or break the law
should not include references to power or acceleration implying that speed limits may be exceeded and there must be no accompanying suggestion of excitement or aggression;
pressing for EU regulation to make car fronts less dangerous for pedestrians involved in an accident;
actively supporting the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro-NCAP) that provides comparative consumer information about the relative crashworthiness offered by new cars on sale to the public;
saving lives by introducing front underrun guards on lorries - we will consult later this year on the introduction of regulations.
Review of speed policy
Many measures that would help the achievement of the new road safety targets will bring wider benefits for integrated transport policy. Better enforcement of speed limits on all roads would reduce the number of accidents and their severity (see Chapter 4). Lower speeds combined with a more fuel efficient driving style could also bring environmental and social gains and in some circumstances could contribute to the more efficient use of roads in congested conditions.
But the precise balance between speed reduction for road safety, for social gains and for reducing vehicle emissions, including noise, is not fully understood. Many of the responses to the consultation suggested that we should review speed policy. We will therefore set up a review to develop a speed policy that takes account of the contribution of reduced speeds to environmental and social objectives as well as to road safety. We will consider issues such as driver attitudes and how behaviour can be improved through education and enforcement.
The review will examine how existing best practice in engineering, enforcement, education and publicity can be developed. The aim will be to develop a practical and cost-effective approach which meets our wider policy objectives.
The review will cover all types of road in Britain, both in town and country. We expect the review to take about one year to complete. We will consult widely, including those environmental groups who traditionally have not been involved in road safety matters.
Speed-we will continue to campaign in the media to get across the rapidly increasing likelihood of serious accidents as speed increases;
'20 mph zones'-we will continue to help local authorities fund traffic calming measures and make it easier to introduce 20 mph speed limits;
speed and red light cameras-we are looking at the funding of cameras and their operation;
cameras at road works-we will step up the practice of placing speed cameras at road works on motorways and trunk roads.
Despite the real and very welcome reduction in the number of motorcycling casualties in recent years (although last year reversed the trend) there were still over 24,000 motorcycle riders and their passengers killed or injured on roads in 1997-7.5% of all casualties but 14% of deaths and serious injuries. In built-up areas, motorcycles are three times more likely than a car to have an accident involving a pedestrian.
One of the concerns raised by motorcycle groups is that the high casualty rate of motorcyclists is due to vehicle drivers not taking enough account of their needs. We have therefore introduced more questions in the driving theory test to increase awareness of vulnerable road users, including motorcyclists. We are also considering what, if any, improvements need to be made to the practical car driving test.
Training has played an important part in reducing the number of casualties and we will consider how the road skills of riders can be further improved in the future. We will issue a consultation paper soon inviting views on the period of validity of provisional motorcycle licences.
Bus and coach safety
Buses and coaches have a good safety record. The operator licensing system, administered by the Traffic Commissioners, will continue to play a vital role in supervising entry to the bus industry and ensuring safe operation. The Vehicle Inspectorate also has an important role in enforcing road worthiness standards. These controls will remain and their effectiveness kept under review.
Investment in improving the quality of vehicles and infrastructure which will be encouraged by our policies for the bus industry should bring safety benefits in addition to encouraging public transport use.
Most bus passenger accidents are the result of falls on the bus or when getting off. But buses in towns are frequently involved in accidents with pedestrians, though the reasons for this are unclear. We plan further research on safety at bus stops. The siting of bus stops and location of crossings should take account of the need to minimise the risk of accidents, whilst encouraging a safer, more pleasant walking environment.
Other research projects are looking at bus passenger safety, and all casualties in accidents involving buses, coaches and minibuses to see if changes to the construction standards for these vehicles could improve safety for passengers and for other road users. It is now a requirement that seat belts are fitted on some seats in coaches and minibuses, and that a forward facing seat fitted with a seat belt is provided for children in these vehicles when on an organised trip.
We will also be consulting on changes to require the fitting of seat belts on all seats in new buses, coaches and minibuses which do not carry standing passengers. All these measures are designed to make bus travel safer and, thus, to encourage bus use.
At present there are differences between EU Regulations which govern drivers' hours, (affecting most HGV drivers and around half of the bus and coach drivers in the UK), and UK domestic legislation, (affecting mainly bus and coach drivers and some HGV operations). There is scope for confusion and some difficulty in enforcing the UK legislation which does not require the use of tachographs. The Transport Select Committee has recommended25 that domestic drivers' hours rules be phased out in favour of the EU rules. We therefore propose to consult on legislative changes which would bring most operations within the scope of the EU rules.
The Commission is currently considering an extension of the Working Time Directive to the transport sector. We support this in principle. There is no reason why transport workers, including professional drivers, should not have the same level of protection against working excessive hours as workers in other sectors. It will, however, be necessary to preserve some flexibility and to take proper account of complicating factors such as the relationship between working time and drivers' hours (for workers covered by drivers' hours regulation), between third party and own account transport operations and between employed and self-employed workers.
Already rail is one of the safest forms of travel and the long term improvement in rail safety is continuing. But the Chief Inspector of Railways has warned that some operators have tried to avoid taking measures to improve rail safety standards, or worse still, to reduce them26. It is vital to ensure that there is no erosion of safety standards in the privatised railway. Existing standards of health and safety must be maintained and, where necessary, improved. Operators must not put commercial considerations ahead of safety.
The Health and Safety Commission (HSC), together with its operational arm the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which includes the Railway Inspectorate, is the independent regulatory body responsible for railway safety. The Railway Inspectorate has comprehensive powers to enforce the wide-ranging duties of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA) and associated Regulations.
A new safety regime for the privatised railway was put in place in 1994. It reflects Railtrack's and train operating companies' obligations under the HSWA to operate safely. Railtrack has responsibilities for both setting and enforcing safety standards. The single most important element in the regime is a requirement for each operator to prepare, and obtain acceptance of, a 'safety case'- a detailed document describing the operator's risk assessments and safety management systems. The regime also gave Railtrack wide-ranging responsibilities for both setting and enforcing safety standards.
We are determined to ensure, as part of improving the railways in the interests of passengers, that safety is not compromised.
The Health and Safety Commission fully shares this resolve. It has recently gone out to formal consultation on draft regulations to oblige the privatised industry to replace or modify Mark 1 (ie slam-door) rolling stock by 2003 and to install train protection (which would apply the brake automatically in danger situations) on all trains and at all key signals by 2004. Mark 1 rolling stock has been criticised because of how it performs in certain types of accidents. The Commission has recommended that all Mark 1 rolling stock be withdrawn by 1 January 2003 unless it has been rebodied by then (in which case it can remain in service indefinitely) or it has been modified to prevent one vehicle overriding another in the event of a crash (in which case the modified stock can remain in service only until 1 January 2007).
The Commission has brought forward its planned review of Railtrack's role in setting safety standards. As recommended in the recent report from the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee27, the Commission will be focusing on the functions and responsibilities of Railtrack's Safety and Standards Directorate and whether those functions and responsibilities should remain with Railtrack or should be located elsewhere. In the meantime, the HSE will continue its independent monitoring, investigation and enforcement of railway safety.
The DETR's newly formed Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is responsible for developing, promoting and enforcing marine safety standards for the UK and for organising the response to incidents at sea and on the coast, whether they involve danger to life or to the environment. To form the new Agency, we brought together from 1 April 1998 the former Marine Safety and Coastguard agencies.
Our aim has been to create a single, better integrated, Agency; able to carry out its functions more effectively. For example, the new Agency will be able to use its combined presence around the coast to improve its oversight of leisure craft and fishing vessels, taking an integrated approach to information and education for crews, and to the monitoring and implementation of safety standards; and it will be better placed to enhance the surveillance and control of traffic through the Dover Straits, the busiest sea lane in the world.
Coastguards on watch 24 hours a day
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will continue to maintain a 24-hour co-ordinating capability for the UK Search and Rescue Region. Designated rescue centres are constantly manned by Coastguard personnel, highly trained in search and rescue procedures.
The safety of passengers and crew at sea is vital. We believe strongly in accident prevention. The new Agency will therefore continue the work of its predecessors in the setting, inspection and enforcement of maritime safety standards. These standards are based primarily on those agreed internationally by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), strengthened in some cases by regional agreements with our EU partners and other North European countries. The MCA will pay particular attention to the safety of passenger ferries and of bulk carriers and vessels carrying hazardous or polluting cargoes.
The MCA will itself enforce safety standards on UK-registered ships. It will also play its full part with our neighbours in enforcing standards on foreign ships through 'port state control'. This will include enforcement of the IMO's International Safety Management (ISM) Code which came into force on 1 July 1998. The ISM Code has broken new ground in seeking to develop a safety culture embracing operations both on ship and ashore. But the only wholly effective way of improving the safety of foreign shipping will be by improving the performance of those flag states, including a number of flags of convenience, who fail to fulfil their commitments under the IMO's Conventions. So the MCA will pursue the campaign of the UK and other like-minded states in the IMO to agree binding and enforceable criteria for the performance by flag states of their obligations.
We will also look to the MCA to take forward new tasks in relation to ports. Among these will be overseeing effective waste management planning by ports and helping to develop and monitor a new port safety code (see Chapter 4) that we propose to draw up in the light of the official accident report on the grounding of the oil tanker Sea Empress at the entrance to Milford Haven in 1996.
Effective accident investigation is a key contributor to marine safety. Recent years have seen enormous advances in the technology for locating, exploring and photographing wreckage on the seabed, as was dramatically shown recently by the investigation of the MV Derbyshire that we co-financed with the European Commission, the report on which was published in March 1998.
being prepared by a steering group which comprises representatives of local and central government and a wide range of organisations and individuals.
the Forum comprises representatives from a range of organisations across the UK including central and local government, business and the voluntary sector.
measured in tonne-kilometres
Third Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, House of Commons Session 1997-98, on the proposed Strategic Rail Authority and Rail Regulation, HoC paper 286-1, March 1998
Railplanner contains information from Railtrack's database
"Review of Telematics Relevant to Public Transport", Transport Research Laboratory, 1998.
"Perceptions of safety from crime on public transport", Crime Concern and Transport and Travel Research, 1997.
"Traffic Impact of Highway Capacity Reduction", MVA and ESRC Transport Studies Unit, UCL, 1998.
see section on sustainable distribution below.
The Government's Foresight programme aims to encourage business and university scientists and engineers to work together to exploit science, engineering and technology to increase wealth and quality of life. The second round of Foresight will be launched in April 1999.
these followed the Countryside Commission's 1992 report "Road Traffic and the Countryside".
in England to be developed in the Roads Review Report. There will be separate reports for Scotland and Wales.
14 . in the "Design Manual for Roads and Bridges" volumes 10-11.
15. Allowing hauliers to operate at 41 tonnes on 6 axles means they can carry approximately the same load as 40 tonne lorries on 5 axles, and still cause considerably less road and bridge wear. This is because their maximum axle weight will be limited to 10.5 tonnes under UK regulations for both domestic and international journeys.
16. "Report of the Inquiry into Lorries, People and the Environment", HMSO, 1980.
17. based on 1996 road and rail freight traffic, current VED rates and on the 5 tonne payload differential between 38 tonne lorries on 5 axles and 44 tonne lorries on 6 axles.
18. for example, in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland.
19. "Roads to Water Research Project", Jonathon Packer and Associates, 1993.
20. Second Report of the Transport Committee, House of Commons Session 1995-96, on UK Airport Capacity, published 21 May 1996, HoC paper 67.
21. "Sea Ports and Maritime Infrastructure", European Commission Green Paper, COM (97)678, 1997.
22. Boeing 737 taken as an example.
23. The Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland is carrying out a similar exercise.
25 Fifth Report of the Transport Committee, House of Commons Session 1995-96, on the adequacy and enforcement of regulations governing heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches, HoC Paper 356-I.
26 "Railway Safety, HM Chief Inspector of Railways' Annual Report on the safety record of the railways in Great Britain during 1996/97".
27 Third Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, House of Commons Session 1997-8, on the proposed Strategic Rail Authority and Rail Regulation, HoC paper 286-I, March 1998.
28 Fourth Report of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, House of Commons Session 1997-8, on Air Traffic Control, HoC paper 360-I, March 1998.
29 Third and Fourth Reports of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, House of Commons Session 1997-8, March 1998.