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Railways: Spark Guards

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 4 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 29 October (HL5766), why spark guards must be fitted to wagons with composite brake blocks which do not provide sparks; and whether they will seek to suspend the relevant European Union rules. [HL5977]

The requirement for fitment of spark guards is part of the specification in the Technical Specification for Interoperability (TSI) for freight wagon rolling stock where the floor of the wagon cannot offer an equivalent level of protection. The TSI is currently under revision and both UK and railway-sector representatives on the TSI drafting group will have the opportunity to argue for the disaggregation of the requirement for spark guards from wagons that use composite brake blocks. If such a revision is not supported by other European railways, the revised TSI could be drafted to include a specific case for the UK to provide for an ongoing alternative national requirement.

Until the TSI is revised, individual vehicle projects can apply for derogation from the requirements of the TSI through a process set out in the directives on interoperability, as transposed in the current Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2006. Officials in the Department for Transport are also discussing the matter with the European Commission and the European Railway Agency.