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


Examination of witnesses (Questions 180 -199)

WEDNESDAY 16 DECEMBER 1998

MR COLIN CHILD and MR RICHARD GOLDSON

  180.  My last question is just to get a view from you. Of course, the West Coast Main Line and the East Coast Main Line are identified as a pretty important part of the trans-European network. Does that figure in your consideration at all when you effectively, at least for the medium and perhaps for the longer term, rule out any Eurostar services to the regions using these lines?
  (Mr Goldson)  We recognise that they are trans-European designated routes. If we can see an opportunity at any stage to operate on them then again under the terms of our agreement we will do so.

  181.  In your investigations, the independent adviser and the independent consultant you commissioned for this, at any stage were you able to identify when that commitment to trans-European network operations, which is a European commitment, a British Government commitment, might be triggered? Five years, ten years, 15 years? Was there any sort of assessment done about that or was it simply a matter of "we know it is part of the TEN but that does not matter much"?
  (Mr Goldson)  We were certainly conscious of the TEN structure but we did not write a chapter in the report specifically identifying———

Chairman

  182.  You did, however, do some assessment of the number of regional passengers that would be involved, did you?
  (Mr Goldson)  Certainly but not as a function of it being a designated route.

  183.  You looked carefully at the numbers of passengers that you would expect to use the regional railways?
  (Mr Goldson)  Absolutely.

  184.  Let me ask you something else. How important is Terminal 5 to your plans to operate Eurostar from Heathrow?
  (Mr Child)  In terms of our existing work that we have done it has hardly featured at all. The only consideration and regard that we have had in terms of operational issues has been once it is built it would make the operations more flexible.

  185.  So Virgin are again mistaken when they say that it would be fundamental to the operation of the service?
  (Mr Child)  Sorry, I do not know whether they are mistaken or not, but it has not been a major issue as far as we are concerned.

  186.  Mr Child, the Committee has a problem because one week we take evidence which says these things are fundamental to the efficient commercial operation of the service and along you come and say, "If they build it, fine, we will use it, but we have not actually assessed it." There is a slight gap here. We are not technical people. We would like to know. What steps do you intend to take to encourage BAA to construct rail links to the Great Western Main Line in the coming arrangements that you are making?
  (Mr Child)  If we do go down the Heathrow route then the additional steps that BAA are taking in terms of further links with the rail network can only help in terms of the integration and feeding of passengers into the potential Eurostar service, so we would be very keen on that.

  187.  And the Waterloo-Reading connection?
  (Mr Child)  The issue with Waterloo, of course, is the abstraction from the existing service.

  188.  That is exactly what we would like to know.
  (Mr Child)  Depending on the frequency for the Heathrow service and the journey time, the potential for abstraction is quite significant both sides of the equation, but all the time it is part of one combined entity. Clearly we are just moving revenue around from one position to another.

  189.  Surely you could tell us what the frequency would be from both those points.
  (Mr Child)  Yes, I believe we have in our report to the Deputy Prime Minister.

  190.  And you would therefore be able to say the effect on Waterloo if Heathrow went ahead?
  (Mr Child)  Yes, we have made an assessment of the abstraction from the existing Inter-Capital service.

Mr Stevenson:  What is it?

Chairman

  191.  Would you like to remind us?
  (Mr Child)  I think it is about 700,000 passengers could be abstracted from Waterloo.

Mr Stevenson

  192.  Percentage of annual passengers?
  (Mr Goldson)  Ten per cent.

Chairman

  193.  Were you not only talking about 750,000 in total?
  (Mr Child)  I was talking about the total London demand. That was the abstraction from Waterloo. In addition, you would then have 750,000 or so from the diverted traffic from air on to rail.

  194.  From the diverted traffic, and you did tell us earlier on that that would not be regional passengers.
  (Mr Child)  I think it is unlikely.

  195.  So that would be entirely inter-continental?
  (Mr Child)  No. I think I said that it would be largely, I believe, the domestic point to point Heathrow to Paris type of passenger.

  196.  All based on the assumption that there is this vast catchment area around Heathrow?
  (Mr Child)  Yes.

Mr Stevenson

  197.  And all the services that you have planned in the medium and long term would benefit, without sounding geographically parochial, are in the south and the south-east of the country?
  (Mr Child)  If it is focused on Heathrow that must be largely true.

Mr Bennett

  198.  So what you are really saying is it is more important to grow the importance of Heathrow and the surrounding area of that than any of the regional centres like Manchester or the north-east that was originally promised these services?
  (Mr Child)  I am trying not to say that.

  199.  But that is what you are actually saying, is it not?
  (Mr Child)  The reality is that we are looking at the financial attractiveness of these different alternative uses.


 
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