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Lrt (Safety)

Volume 164: debated on Monday 8 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is yet in a position to announce safety and quality of service objectives for London Regional Transport.

[pursuant to his reply, 20 December 1989, c. 280]: Following is a fuller text of my letter to the chairman of London Regional Transport.

"My predecessor wrote to you on your appointment about the challenges facing London Regional Transport. He asked you to prepare a strategy for the coming years, which could be used as a basis for setting formal objectives for you and your Board.
Your response takes the form of the "Chairman's Planning Statement," which you are about to publish. In the light of that statement, I am writing to you about the safety and quality of service objectives I wish you to pursue. Before 1 April 1990 I shall settle with you the financial objectives for LRT covering the next three financial years.


LRT and its subsidiaries are responsible for the safe operation of the services they provide. The Fennell Report on the King's Cross fire underlined the need to give the highest priority to safety and to address safety matters explicitly in all LRT's activities. You have undertaken with vigour the task of implementing the Fennell Report's recommendations. You have already fully implemented 73 of the 127 recommendations addressed to LRT or London Underground, and have in hand action on the remaining 54.
You have also now established a clear framework for collecting statistics on safety performance, setting safety objectives and monitoring and auditing safety performance at every level of the organisation. This should ensure the progressive improvement in the safety of all the services you provide or secure. I welcome the steps you have taken. I hereby endorse the safety objectives set out in Annex A to this letter.

Quality of Service on the Underground

Demand for Underground services has grown by more than 70 per cent. since 1982. This has put the Underground under strain and we are all agreed that the quality of service for passengers is not as good as it should be.
Much of passengers' dissatisfaction stems from overcrowding. The only way to deal adequately with the growth in demand is to invest in increasing the capacity of the system. This is why approval has been given for a massive investment programme, including the £900 million Major Upgrading Programme and the extension of the Jubilee Line to service East London and Docklands. Urgent work is in progress on the options for another major new line to relieve congestion. In the shorter term, we must ensure that the most is made of the existing system. I am therefore setting objectives for improvement in such areas as peak capacity, reliability and the availability of lifts and escalators. I shall look to London Underground to meet these as soon as possible and, in any case, no later than 31 March 1992. These objectives are set out in full at Annex B to the Letter.

Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway has been in operation for just over two years. It is now being extended to the City and to Beckton. Measures are in hand to increase its capacity still further. It is vital that the DLR provides a reliable and high-quality service, as the system is upgraded and capacity increased. I am therefore setting targets for the DLR covering aspects of service similar to those in the objectives set for the Underground. These are set out in Annex C. Again, the targets should be met as soon as possible, and no later than 31 March 1992.

LRT Bus Services

Despite increasing difficulties with traffic congestion, there has been a noticeable improvement in the percentage of scheduled bus mileage actually operated, and average waiting time has been stabilised over the past couple of years. You have increased the number of routes let by competitive tender. You have also restructured London Buses Ltd. into smaller, more accountable, subsidiaries. These measures have played a valuable part in securing better quality and value for money. I now think that the time has come to build on that success by setting LRT quality of service targets for all its bus services, including those operated by London Buses and other operators on contract. The objectives are set out in Annex D.

LRT Travel Enquiry Service

It is important that passengers should have ready access to up-to-date information on all LRT's passenger services. I am therefore setting LRT's Travel Enquiry Service the objective of ensuring that 75 per cent. of telephone callers receiving the ringing tone should be answered within 30 seconds and no more than 10 per cent. of callers should receive the engaged tone.
You will report to my Department and to the London Regional Passengers' Committee at quarterly intervals, the performance achieved against the quality of service objectives.
As you know, it is also my intention to set LRT, in good time before 1 April, financial objectives for the next three financial years. These will be designed to ensure that these safety and quality of service objectives are met as efficiently and economically as possible, so that customers and taxpayers, receive proper value for money. Our officials are already in touch about this."

Copies of the annexes to this letter have been placed in the House Libraries.