§ Mr. Haselhurst
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what productivity gains in respect of signalling have been made on British Railways over the past decade; how they have been achieved; and what assessment he has made of consequential remuneration.
§ Mr. Watts
Between 1980 and 1993 the number of signalling staff, including relief grades, declined from 7,599 to 4,941, a reduction of 35 per cent. For the same period there was a 46 per cent. reduction in total railway staff.
Over the same period, productivity gains in signalling have largely arisen from investment of the order of £1 billion, especially in new technology in track and signalling projects, and changes in service patterns. This has led to a decline in the number of signal boxes from 1,855 to 1,033, a drop of 44 per cent.
Job changes arising from this investment have been reflected in regrading of signalling staff and higher allowances. In 1980, 22 per cent. were at the lowest grade: in 1993 it was 9 per cent. Similarly, the highest grade increased from 6 per cent. to 15 per cent. Those trends have continued in 1994. In addition, signalling staff have benefited from the creation of new allowances. As a result, signalling staff have had significant real increases in pay: since 1979 their real earnings growth has been 47 per cent., compared with 14 per cent. for manual workers and 37 per cent. for the whole economy.