Other railway legislation etc.

High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 3rd March 2016.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to consider schedule 28.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I shall be brief. Clause 41 relates to other railway legislation, etc. It introduces schedule 28, which sets out the application of general legislation relating to railways to phase 1 of HS2. That includes certain disapplications and incorporations.

For example, paragraph 1 of schedule 28 disapplies the Highway (Railway Crossings) Act 1839, which requires the railroad provider to maintain gates at each end of the crossing and employ a person to open and close said gates. That, of course, is not required today.

Conversely, schedule 28 incorporates provision that makes it an offence for a person to obstruct the lawful construction of the authorised works. All of those are to ensure that the HS2 railway can be constructed, maintained and operated effectively.

In some instances, modifications have been made to reflect modern times, such as increasing the maximum fine for trespass under the Railway Regulation Act 1840 in its application to phase 1 of HS2. I could go on to talk about the restriction of diesel locomotives at the North Pole depot but I will spare the Committee that particular interesting detail.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport)

I was looking forward to hearing about the diesels at the North Pole depot; I feel cheated. I was a little surprised when I first saw that the schedule referred to the application of other railway legislation, etc., but it would be churlish of me to say that shows a lack of precision, because it is perfectly clearly set out what the “etc.” is all about.

I would like the Minister to consider this point. He has highlighted that with HS2 there will not be roadworks and barriers; it is a continuous route. Will he comment on the issue of safety and trespass around the HS2 line? It is markedly different from a conventional line. What specific measures have been introduced? It is clearly an offence to trespass upon a railway. Are there any additional provisions specific to HS2 that we should consider?

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I am happy to comment on that. Safety on the railway is of vital importance, not just for those who travel on the railway but for those in proximity to the lines. One real issue that affects our rail network in this country is suicide. Network Rail, on the existing classic network, and I am sure HS2 will be aware of what we can do to try to detract from that—for example, to ensure that crossings over the railway are not easy to use in that regard.

The line will be secure, unlike some of the traditional network. There will be no level crossings or points crossings on the railway. We will be using flyovers, so the trains will not need to slow down to use points. However, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that we need to ensure that safety is paramount. One has only to look at HS1 or, indeed, infrastructure around the world to see that high-speed railways are very safe railways and it is very difficult for members of the public to gain access. Modern railway regulations specify safety standards in great detail, and we will of course comply with all those regulations.

I hope that allays the hon. Gentleman’s fears, but he is absolutely right: safety is paramount. Having seen some of the issues on our rail network in the past, I am delighted that there will be state-of-the-art rolling stock and state-of-the-art signalling systems. The training that will be available to staff will be second to none and, indeed, the British Transport police will be receiving training in operations on this part of the line, as they already do in delivering such a fantastic service.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 41 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 28 agreed to.

Clause 42