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Channel Tunnel

Volume 172: debated on Tuesday 15 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any plans to increase the amount of funds available for the construction of the channel tunnel rail link.

We are currently considering proposals submitted by BR and its private sector partner, Eurorail, for a high-speed link between London and the channel tunnel.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress the health and safety at work working group has made in the establishment of compatible accident reporting systems and procedures for the exchange of information on accidents during work on the channel tunnel.

Accidents are reported to the national authorities in the United Kingdom and France under existing regulations and procedures. I understand that information about accidents is exchanged through the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority and its health and safety working group, and a standard reporting form has been developed to ensure the compatibility of information about individual accidents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) on what dates the health and safety at work working group of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority met; and what was discussed;(2) if he will give details of the discussions that have taken place within the health and safety at work working group of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority on particular health and safety problems associated with the construction of the channel tunnel.

I understand that the health and safety at work working group of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority meets on average once a month to discuss various topics to do with health and safety in the channel tunnel. The group has principally been concerned over the last year with issues relating to the safety of workers on both the British and French sides during the construction phase.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions have taken place within the health and safety working group of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority over the need to harmonise working standards and practices when the tunnels meet; and whether there will be a harmonisation of relevant national legislation.

I understand that a series of discussions has been held in the health and safety working group of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority on the health and safety arrangements which will need to be put in a place to ensure an optimum safety regime when the tunnels meet. When the safety authority reaches conclusions, the intergovernmental commission will consider how best to make arrangements within the provisions of the treaty.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) on what date the safety report referred to on page 4 of the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority annual report 1988–89 was received; and what actions stemmed therefrom;(2) on what date the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority received an adequate preliminary risk analysis of risks and hazards from Eurotunnel.

I understand that at an early stage in the design of the project Eurotunnel submitted a preliminary risk analysis for the terminals and tunnels. Since then, certain Eurotunnel submissions on individual aspects of the design and operation of the system have been accompanied by safety reports which provide elements of a safety analysis. However, as the chairman of the safety authority said in his letter of November 1989 submitting the annual report, the authority sees a need for a full hazard analysis to be commissioned by the concessionaires and audited by the maitre d'oeuvre. The safety authority will be closely involved in designing and monitoring the study and assessing the significance of the results.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority's annual report 1989–90 will be published.

I understand that the report is under preparation by the safety authority and should be published in the autumn.