asked Her Majesty's Government:In the light of the concern expressed by Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate over the crashworthiness of Mark 1 rail passenger coaches, including the expectations (i) after the 1989 Clapham accident that virtually all such coaches would be replaced by 1997 and (ii) after the Cowden accident that II such coaches would be subject to a programme of improving their crashworthiness what action has been taken to implement the recommendations made after the Cowden accident, and whether they will confirm the statement made by the franchising director in awarding the seven-year franchise for Network South Central that the Railway Inspectorate is content that this rolling stock should remain in service until the end of the franchise.
All rolling stock is maintained to operate safely and Mark 1 stock is not inherently unsafe. Network South Central's stock of this type has been on lease since April 1994 and the majority of this stock is expected to remain on lease until the end of the franchise in 2003. It was in this context that the franchising director's remarks were intended.In September 1995 the British Railways Board (BRB) submitted a report in response to a request from HSE for a position paper describing BRB's view of the future of Mark 1 stock. Following the Cowden report recommendation about further research on strengthening, HSE is considering the BRB report and the issues it raises, and has commissioned further research itself.In the light of this work, HSE will review the future of Mark 1 rolling stock and any action that may be needed if it is to continue in use beyond 1999.