Memorandum by the Railway Development
Society (IT 69)
RDS welcomes the Government's vision for integrated
transport contained in the White Paper and we look for early action
to put this vision into practise. In particular early legislation
is needed to create the Strategic Rail Authority, to take charge
of passenger franchising and to bring much needed strategic co-ordination
to Britain's railways.
We support the range of funding tools in the
White Paper, in particular empowering local authorities to earmark
new road/parking charges for public transport improvements, and
we urge the government to take early action to implement these
measures. We believe that a national charge on private non-residential
parkingincluding out-of-town shopping and leisure complexesis
also needed to stem traffic growth.
The Government should now set national targets
for the reduction of CO2 emissions from transport and,
to achieve that, targets for reducing road traffic and increasing
We welcome the commitment to establish the Strategic
Rail Authority (SRA). A powerful and proactive SRA is crucial
to achieving the twin aims of rail expansion and integrated transport.
RDS proposes the following additional functions
for the SRA:
a full review of the passenger franchise
system to set new priorities for the next round of franchises,
including new network-wide "integration standards";
an urgent review of National rail
fares to create a new basket of protected walk-on fares, concessions,
railcards and passes, which all new franchises will have to honour;
creation of a National Rail Development
Planincluding line and station reopenings, electricifation
and freight facilitiesto increase passenger and freight
We support the setting of targets for increasing
volumes of passengers and freight going by rail, and urge that
these be introduced as soon as possible.
We welcome the prospect of swifter action to
fine 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 retain fines from operators for reinvestment in
RDS proposes the following interim measures until
the SRA is up and running;
fresh instructions to ORR, OPRAF
and BRB to instil the new priorities for rail integration:
tighter regulation of Railtrack and
the train operatorswith swifter action to fine poor performancewithin
the current constrains. The Government should be prepared to terminate
franchises when services are persistently poor and to relet contracts
on the basis of higher service standards.
We strongly urge the Government to bring
forward legislation to set up the SRA as soon as possible to prevent
a repeat of the pre-privatisation investment hiatus, take control
of the re-franchising process and provide a strategic vision for
We are disappointed that the White Paper does
not contain real plans to expand the rail network. Under
privatisation line and station reopenings have ground to a virtual
halt, electrification has stopped all together and major projects
like Crossrail and Thameslink are on indefinite hold. The SRA
must be given the remit and powers to get all these things moving
Expanding the rail network is vital to achieving
the Government's aim of a major shift from road to rail. Britain
needs a national programme of line and station reopenings to give
everyone access to the rail network. The SRA must drive this forward.
Most other European countries have electrified
networks. Electrification means faster, cleaner, more reliable
trainsless energy and less pollution. No single party in
the privatised railway has an interest in pursuing the long term
benefits of electrification. The SRA must be given specific responsibility
for promoting electrification, or it will simply not happen.
Light rail and urban rail
The White Paper effectively dismisses light
rail as too expensive. However, upgrading and extending existing
suburban lines for light rail can be cost effective and deliver
significant modal shift. Manchester's Metrolink, for example,
replaces 2.5 million car journeys a year. Another cost effective
option is to upgrade conventional local rail services to provide
a high quality "metro-style" network of frequent trains,
such as Birmingham's Cross-City Route, Merseyrail and Clyderail.
Integration of bus and rail serviceswith
through tickets and connectionsis crucial to achieving
modal shift. The Tyne and Wear Metro network achieved full integration
of surface rail, Metro and local bus services, up until bus deregulation.
We believe that some form of bus regulation is needed to ensure
co-ordination with rail services. Improved access to stations
for pedestrians and bikes is also vital to integrationnew
research from Sustrans/Railtrack shows that shorter/safer routes
to stations can dramatically increase rail use.
RDS proposes that the SRA should produce a National
Rail Development Plan, to:
give all major population centres
(over 23,000) access to the rail network;
promote the line and station reopenings
which will deliver significant modal shift;
promote schemes which offer social,
environmental or indirect economic benefits;
plan the strategic in-filling and
extension of electrification.
We welcome the two new funds for rail development
and the increase in freight grants. However, we question the sole
purpose of the Infrastructure fund of relieving "pinch points"work
which could and should be funded by Railtrack.
RDS proposes that:
the scope of the proposed Infrastructure
Fund be widened to include track re-doubling, reopening of strategic
links and in-fill electrification;
If the rail network is to provide the backbone
for integrated transport, the SRA must be empowered and resourced
to take the lead in network expansion and electrification.
We note that the Secretary of State will seek
the advice of the SRA on franchises. The SRA must be set up as
soon as possible, if it is to have proper time to consider the
options for changing the franchising process to incorporate the
Government's new priorities. It is important that new priorities
and commitmentsespecially to integration and investmentare
enshrined in the new franchises. There is, therefore, a strong
argument for not extending franchises on an ad hoc basis
in the meantime.
RDS proposes that the new franchises should include:
enhanced protection for all walk-on
fares, railcards, concessions and passes;
new "Integration Standards"
covering information, tickets, connections, joint marketing, integration
with buses, and pedestrian, cycle and disabled access;
enhanced PSRsespecially for
evening and weekend servicesto provide a real alternative
to car use;
the opportunity for the public sector
to bid for franchises, if it will provide a better deal for the
We need to move towards Quality franchisesawarded
on the basis of best value not least costwhich seek commitments
to integration and investment by operators.
We support the SRA's role of "monitor rolling
stock needs". However, we are concerned that, as the end
of the first franchises approach, there will be a hiatus is rolling
stock investment. Early action is needed, ahead of the SRA, to
ensure adequate renewal of rolling stock.
RDS proposed that:
OPRAF be instructed to use its powers
to guarantee, and encourage, new rolling stock investment (the
possibility of grants for new trains could also be examined);
the ROSCO's be brought under similar
regulation to Railtrackobliging them to maintain and renew
rolling stock at modern equivalent asset value;
Rolling stock leasing charges should
be regulated to prevent disproportionate charges for running extra/longer
We support the continuing role of the independent
Rail Regulator 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.
RDS proposes that:
the SRA investigates paying fixed
infrastructure costs direct to Railtrackcombined with greatly
reduced access chargesto encourage operators to run marginal/experimental
access charges for freight be reduced
to reflect savings to the wider economy (less pollution, congestion,
road damage and accidents).
We agree with the Government that Open Access
should be pursued with caution, and must not be at the expense
of achieving an integrated network. The role of local rail services
in delivering integrated transport and traffic reduction must
not be undermined by allocating extra train paths for competing
services on profitable inter-city routes.
Rail user's committees
RDS supports the proposal to enhance the powers
of the CRUCC and RUCCs. However, we agree with the Select Committee
that the CRUCC and RUCCs need to represent a wider cross-section
RDS proposes that passenger representation should
be further strengthened by:
giving the CRUCC and RUCCs a higher
profile and a wider remit;
consulting with passenger groups
ahead of franchise extensions, renewals and take-overs.
Railtrack have a crucial role to play in delivering
the switch to rail. There is a real danger that rail growth could
be stifled by Railtrack's failure to provide adequate capacity
soon enough. Further measures are neededthrough stronger
regulation, and an equity staketo gain greater control
We support the principle of paying Railtrack
at least a portion of their income direct from the SRA in return
for specific network enhancements.
We do not think that Railtrack should be responsible
for safety enforcement, and we support the Select Committee's
recommendation for an independent safety authority.
Rail freight is an essential element of integrated
transport. The SRA should set early targets for increasing the
proportion of freight going by rail. We welcome the increase in
grants for rail freight, and urge that the allocation process
be further streamlined.
We welcome the Government's decision to limit
lorry weights to 41 tonnes until at least 2003. Intermodal operations
could be encouraged by giving tax concessions on lorries used
exclusively for short-distance intermodal operations. However,
excise duty on all other heavy lorries needs to be increased to
reflect their true costs to the wider economy.
We believe that more urgent action, and Government
funding, is needed to advance "High gauge" and "Piggyback"
freight. This is vital to increasing rail's share of the freight
market and the SRA should be instructed to promote it.
We welcome the White Paper's proposals to pass
greater control of transport to the regional/local level. But,
it is essential that government gives local authorities adequate
support and resources to promote the new transport agenda, and
the powers and duties to deliver it.
Local Transport Plans
We welcome the stability and long-term view
encouraged by LTPs, and the news that they may be developed to
cover more than one local authority (the necessary scale for proper
rail planning). DETR must now enforce its new priorities by rejecting
Local Transport Plans and corridor studies where the alternatives
to roads are not fully explored.
We welcome earmarked road/parking charges, and
we urge early legislation (and encouragement to local authorities)
to introduce them. A recent MORI poll showed 76 per cent of the
public in favour of traffic charges which are earmarked for improving
Passenger Transport Executives
We were disappointed that the White Paper contained
no plans to extend the successful PTE model to more areas. Existing
PTEs offer some of the best examples of local rail networks and
public transport integration. PTEs should have their previous
powers restored, to require operators to participate in integration
initiatives. We also urge that the Greater London Authority be
given the same powers and responsibilities as PTEs to control
integration of all public transport.
RDS welcomes the freeze/review of BR land sales.
We also welcome the agreement with Sustrans that ex-BR lines will
be returned to rail use when necessary.
We are concerned at reports that Railtrack is
accelerating its disposal of land assets. Whilst they have taken
some steps to protect land for freight use, Railtrack are not
taking a sufficiently broad view of passenger needssuch
as using land around stations to improve bus interchange and pedestrian,
cycle and disabled access.
RDS proposes that:
the government should reconsider
the Select Committee's proposal that the SRA be given first refusal
(at market value) of any land Railtrack wishes to sell;
in the meantime, ORR should be instructed
to monitor Railtrack land sales, to ensure land needed for transport
integration is not lost.
RDS still believes that further measures are
needed to prevent the break-up, or building on, of disused rail
lines owned by BRB, Railtrack, local authorities and othersas
outlined in RDS's proposed Railway Route Protection Bill.
The loss of disused rail lines and other
rail land could undermine the government's objectives for transport
integration. We urge that a long term view be taken.
RDS welcomes the White Paper's vision of rail
at the heart of integrated transport. We propose the following
key measures, to help this vision become a reality:
legislation to establish the Strategic
Rail Authority must be passed as soon as possible;
the SRA should produce a National
Rail Development Plan;
the SRA should conduct a full review
of the passenger franchise system;
further measures to ensure adequate
levels of investment by Railtrack and the ROSCOs.