To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 31 October 2001, Official Report, column 682W, on European railways, which TSIs are now being drafted; what work his Department has done to contribute to the scoping of the TSI drafting; if the directive will require the upgrading of main line routes in the UK to meet continental gauges; and what representations his Department has received from the rail industry about this directive.
Preparatory work has started on the first priority group of TSIs specified in article 23(1)(a) of the directive. This work is being led by the AEIF (the European Association for Railway Interoperability), which comprises representatives from the railway operating and manufacturing industries. The UK railway industry is well represented at all levels within AEIF. Member states' involvement in the TSIs at government level is through participation in the "Article 21 Committee" set up under the directive. This committee is responsible for approving the TSIs before they are adopted and can influence the contents of the TSIs throughout the drafting process.
We do not expect the TSIs to require the upgrading of UK main line routes to continental gauges. The directive provides for "specific cases" to be included in the TSIs to allow some existing national parameters, such as the loading gauge, to be retained in certain circumstances. We expect to seek appropriate specific cases in these respects. More generally, the directive provides for derogations from application of the TSIs in certain circumstances, including where their application would compromise the economic viability of the project and/or its compatibility with the existing rail system.
The rail industry has been consulted on the directive from its inception and has made wide-ranging representations on its scope and potential impact.