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Light Rail Projects (Health and Safety)

Volume 551: debated on Thursday 18 October 2012

11. What recent assessment he has made of health and safety standards for light rail projects; and if he will make a statement. (123219)

The Office of Rail Regulation has responsibility for health and safety on light rail and tramways. The Department has therefore made no formal assessment, although our recent publication, “Green Light for Light Rail”, seeks to ensure that excessive costs are driven out, while appropriate safety standards are maintained, thereby putting light rail in a stronger position from which to grow.

I thank the Minister for that answer and for his support for light rail. However, having looked at the success of light rail in other countries, particularly across the channel, compared with the costs here, we see that one problem is the imposition of high rail safety standards, which mean that light rail is over-engineered and over-expensive. What will he do to change that?

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to that matter, which was one reason why we produced the “Green Light for Light Rail” report. We have made progress through the two summits that I have held subsequently towards more proportionate standards for light rail, which should bring the costs down while ensuring that safety is maintained.