Safety Bill to target transport

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Plans to improve safety on the railways and tackle alcohol and drug use by transport workers were part of the legislative plans unveiled today.

Plans to improve safety on the railways and tackle alcohol and drug use by transport workers were part of the legislative plans unveiled today.

A Safety Bill is to be drafted aimed at providing safer travel on the railways, in the air, at sea and on the roads.

Plans for "revitalising" health and safety at work were also published, including moves to increase penalties for safety-related offences.

The Government is believed to be considering setting up a single transport safety body to rebuild confidence in public transport following a number of rail accidents, including the Hatfield derailment which has led to widespread disruption of services.

The Bill will cover rail safety measures arising from the report of the Cullen Inquiry into last year's Paddington train crash.

The review is due to report next year and could recommend changes to the regulation of the rail industry.

Officials at the Rail Maritime and Transport union welcomed the Bill.

A spokesman said: "The days following the Hatfield derailment showed there were massive gaps in safety responsibility while the drive for profit intervenes. We hope this will be rectified in the Bill."

The train drivers' union Aslef said it hoped the Bill will include provision for the widespread introduction of the Automatic Train Protection safety system.

The Bill will also tackle alcohol and drug use by staff including cabin crew, air traffic controllers and members of a ship's crew, with the aim of bringing controls more closely into line with those already in place on the roads and railways.

Blood alcohol limits will be introduced for staff in civil aviation and shipping, giving police powers to test suspected offenders.

Police will also be able to test safety critical workers in civil aviation and shipping for drugs.

Safety standards in harbours will be promoted and fire authorities are to be allowed to recover costs when fighting blazes at sea.

Changes to penalties for road traffic offences were also promised although final details have yet to be announced.

Any new transport safety body could be modelled on the US National Transportation Safety Board, an independent federal agency that investigates air, rail, highway and marine accidents.

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