§ Mr. Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will call for a report from the chairman of London Regional Transport ascertaining when it is planned that all PVC cable on the London Underground will be replaced by low smoke zero halogen cable; and if he will provide a special grant from Her Majesty's Government to speed up this replacement programme; and if he will make a statement;
(2) if he will call for a report from the chairman of London Regional Transport to ascertain how many electricians are employed on the London Underground: how many are involved in fitting and maintaining cable underground; how many are fully working on the LSZH programme; and if he will provide a special grant from Her Majesty's Government to London Underground Ltd. for the employment of more electricians; and if he will make a statement;
(3) what assessment he has made of the implications for safety of potential toxicity and thick smoke resulting from a fire of (a) PVC cabling and(b) arcing cables, on the London Underground.
§ Mr Portillo
The assessment of safety on the Underground is in the first instance a matter for London Underground Ltd. I understand that the Underground stopped installing PVC cable some five years ago and that a replacement programme is under way.
London Underground Ltd. and its consultants are now reconsidering the priorities within this programme, using hazard analysis techniques. The railway inspectorate is being kept fully informed.
Arcing occurs when the cable insulation fails. The risk can be reduced by ensuring that the circuit breakers provided to detect arcing and switch off the power are maintained in the correct setting.
The numbers and deployment of electricians are management matters for London Underground Ltd. It is for LUL to determine appropriate staffing levels in the light of LRT's statutory duty to have due regard to efficiency, economy and safety of operation. The costs involved will be taken into account in the annual discussions of LRT's financing requirements.