Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by South West Transport Network (IT 106)


  We welcome the governments vision for an integrated transport policy that will reduce car dependency and make modal shift. We fully support the range of funding tools in the White Paper. In particular empowering local county transportation authorities and unitary authorities to earmark funding for public transport through road pricing/parking charges for public transport. We urge the government to take early action to implement these measures.


  We believe that a national charge on private non-residential parking should be implemented. This should include out of town retail parks and shopping centres to create a level playing field between the regeneration of town and city centres and out of town shopping centres such as the Mall at Cribbs Causeway near Bristol or the proposed out of town shopping complex at Morlands, Glastonbury which will have major effect on the surrounding Mendip Towns such as Street, Glastonbury, Frome, Shepton Mallet, Radstock, Midsomer Norton, Paulton and the City of Wells. Charges on non residential parking spaces need to be included on out of town leisure complexes such as out of town drive in cinema complexes. The use of none residential parking taxes will help regenerate city centres and stem the tide of out of town traffic growth where out of town shopping centres exist. There needs to be improved public transport access with rail access. For example the new Cribbs Causeway Shopping Centre has a regional bus network for all over Bristol, Somerset and Gloucestershire which is effective in generating 23-1 access to this out of town shopping centre by bus but the site has no railway station despite the former station at Henbury on the Avonmouth Dock to Filton Junction route. This site also needs to be served by light rail.


  We disagree that the White Paper effectively dismisses light rail as too expensive. However upgrading and extending suburban lines for light rail can be cost effective and deliver significant modal shift, this can be done in the Bristol area by extending the local suburban rail services from Bristol City Centre to Temple Meads to Filton Abbeywood and the new town of Bradley Stoke in South Gloucesterhire. Other lines which could be included in the Bristol Travel to Work area can include the Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach line. The Bristol City Centre to Portishead Line which could be brought back into use for freight and passenger services which will add cross government policy for regeneration of Bristol City Centre Harbour site and Portished Quay. This policy will also allow social inclusion by a new light rail line using the Whitchurch branch line through south Bristol to the new employment areas around Bradley Stoke. Schemes at Birmingham and Manchester Metro replaces 2.5 million car journeys a year.


  We welcome the Strategic Rail Authority as this body is essential to the regeneration of Britain's Railways following the break up of the railway system under the previous governments privatisation. We are disappointed that the White Paper does not contain real plans to expand the rail network. In the South West Region under privatisation the re-opening of railway lines and stations has ground to a halt with the exception of the Exeter Central to Okehampton Service on Sundays. The Bristol TM to Severn Beach and the Radstock-Frome-Melksham-Chippenham-Swindon service are in fact partly operated by bus services. For example major rail expansion between Salisbury and Exeter alongside the A303 with new station at Wilton and Chard Junction with double track sections could make modal shift form the A303 if further road capacity is not added to this route by the Highways Agency. The rail scheme is costed at 14.5 million for double track sections.

  The SRA should produce a National Rail Development Plan

    —  to give all major population centres access to the rail network including bus rail integrated networks;

    —  promote lines and station re-openings which will deliver significant modal shift such as the Taunton to Minehead Railway via Watchet off the A358 parallel road;

    —  promote lines jointly with local authorities, the RDA, the Regional Chambers and the South West Regional Planning Conference that promote economic benefits and add to regeneration and promote social inclusion—for example by providing more services to inner city stations in Bristol and Plymouth;

    —  plan the strategic in filling and extension of electrification from the London Paddington Heathrow Express Service from London Paddington to Bristol TM via Bristol Parkway and Bath Spa.

  The Strategic Rail Authority needs to have regional rail regulators based in regional centres such as Bristol and Plymouth that can monitor day to day rail operations and can be seen on stations as the human face of the national railways authority. Work currently being carried out by station access teams of ORR should be carried out regionally by the SRA.


  We support the SRA's role of monitoring rolling stock needs. We propose that OPRAF be instructed to use its powers to guarantee an encourage a new rolling stock investment, that the ROSCO's be brought under similar regulation to Railtrack and that rolling stock leasing charges should be regulated to prevent disproportionate charges for running extra/longer trains.


  We support the continuing role of the independent rail regultor in setting track and station access charges. Access charges must be structured so as not to discourage operators from running more/longer trains or experimental services. We propose that the SRA investigates paying all fixed infrastructure costs directly to Railtrack—in conjunction with greatly reduced access charges—to encourage operators to run marginal/experimental services and that access charges for freight should be reduced to reflect the wider savings to the economy.


  We support the setting of targets for increasing volumes of passenger rail. This should include national targets as well as regional targets drawn up jointly with the South West Regional Planning Conference, The Regional Chamber and the Regional Development Agency.


  We welcome the prospect of swifter action for poor performance. We note the wider review taking place into the issue of whether fines/penalties should be retained by the levying authority. We support this principle and believe that the SRA should obtain fines from operators for re-investment in rail facilities and services.


  We welcome the White Paper proposals to pass greater control of transport to the regional/local level but it is essential that government provides adequate guidance, support, instructions and fiscal penalties if local transport plans are not carried out. This is important in counties like Dorset and Wiltshire with a very strong road building culture. For example these authorities are still trying to procure road building programmes under PFI schemes. One such scheme is the A350, Chippenham to Poole route, Semmington, Melksham diversion and Westbury Bypass that parallels the Swindon to Westbury Rail Corridor with two trains a day. This was provided under the franchise PSR for Wales and the West Passenger Trains. Local authorities also need support and resources to implement the new transport agenda. The DETR must now enforce its new priorities by rejecting local transport plans and corridor studies when the alternatives to roads are evaluated and alternative modes provided.


  There is a need for more Passenger Transport Authorities with the brake up of Avon County Council. Transport Planning across the former Avon area has become fragmented although there is a joint Land Use and Transportation Committee for the four unitary authorities but with no statutory power to carry out joint bus and rail service planning. In the case of bus services, cross boundary planning problems arise on tendered services of having to get each of the former Avon area unitary authorities to sign up on joint arrangements for cross boundary bus services. This has resulted in a through Bristol to bath evening service terminating half way between Bristol and Bath in Hanham in the evening. There is a need for economic reasons to form a Bristol Travel to Work area PTE but with a wider area for rail travel including the former Avon area, Gloucestershire, Somerset and North Wiltshire centred on Bristol, Bath, Swindon, Taunton, Frome and Gloucester.


  We welcome the bus regulation proposals in the White Paper but would like to see these proposals strengthened.

    —  there is a need to remove the 42 day notice for the Regulation of Services;

    —  there is a need for the Traffic Commissioners to regulate services including the companies providing evening services and Sunday services as well as the commercial bus network;

    —  there is a need for the Traffic Commissioners to check services are operated according to the timetables;

    —  a statutory watchdog needs to be set up for bus consumers in each of the 10 regions in England and in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland similar to the RUCC's but these must become more open and more accountable consumer type panels. Bus service route charges should happen only twice a year similar to rail timetable provision. The Traffic Commissioners should have duties to work on integrated transport jointly with the Strategic Rail authorities; including franchising and quality contracts.


  We agree with road pricing.

David Redgewell

T200 South West network

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