Firm figures for 1968 are not yet available, but there were 284 freight train derailments in 1967. I will, with permission, circulate the comparable figures for earlier years in the OFFICIAL REPORT. TO put 1967 figures in proper perspective there was an average of about 3 freight train derailments per million freight train miles.
But is not this a most disturbing situation? Some of us are deeply disturbed that a very serious accident will happen, with the loss of lives, before long. Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to overcome this problem, perhaps by reducing the speed limit?
The speed limit has been reduced on two occasions. It was reduced from 55 m.p.h. to 45 m.p.h. between 1963 and 1966. The Chief Inspecting Officer of the railways has discussed at length the whole question of freight train derailments with the Railways Board and is satisfied with the steps which it is taking.
I agree that British Railways are safer relatively than any other railway in the world. But that is no cause for complacency. If my hon. Friend and other hon. Members read the annual report of the Chief Inspecting Officer, they will see that the question of derailments is dealt with fully. The Chief Inspecting Officer is satisfied that the Railways Board is doing all that is necessary.