Memorandum by the Chartered Institute
of Transport in the UK (CIT UK) (RES 3)
REGIONAL EUROSTAR SERVICES
The Chartered Institute of Transport in the
UK (CIT UK) welcomes the Sub Committee's inquiry into the failure
to provide the regional Eurostar services. CIT UK recognises that
the services in question are relatively few within the total Eurostar
service from London, and that the economic results of the main
Eurostar services to date have placed a question mark over the
viability of the regional services. However, the current lack
of commitment to operation of these trains risks undermining some
economic initiatives in the midland and northern parts of Great
Britain, and it poses serious questions over the ability of Government
to fully implement the policies proposed in their recent transport
British Rail proposed a basic level of regional
Eurostar services in 1989, as part of the package of international
passenger services to use the Channel Tunnel, drawn up UK under
Section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987 [Ref 1]. These
were set out in a comprehensive programme of consultations carried
out with regional interests throughout Great Britain. During the
consultations a number of organisations expressed the view that
the level of Eurostar services north of London should be much
higher than these proposals, and this was set out in the report
on the consultations prepared by the institute of British Geographers
[Ref 2]. In a commentary on this report British Rail rejected
the requests for enhanced service levels, largely on the premise
that the services they had offered would provide adequately for
regional needs [Ref 3].
Subsequently British Rail placed orders for
seven "Regional" Eurostar sets and also set in hand
work to improve the infrastructure where necessary for their operation.
The seven sets were delivered in 1997. Much of the infrastructure
has been modified where necessary for their operation of the proposed
CIT UK CONCERN
CIT UK is very concerned at the decision by
Eurostar, as successor to British Rail, not to operate these services.
There are three reasons for this.
1. In the absence of any committed national
or regional transport strategies within which firmly based decisions
could be taken, the consultation on the Section 40 process offered
the only apparent process for establishing a comprehensive picture
of demand and needs for Channel Tunnel services. Along with other
bodieslocal authorities, commerce and industry, community
associationsCIT UK committed considerable time and effort
to preparing detailed statements. While the Institute did not
necessarily expect all its proposals to be adopted, they did presume
that at least the basic level of services proposed by British
Rail would be provided; as did most consultees. Statements made
by Government and British Rail during the consultations implied
that this would be the case.
2. Over the last decade local authorities and
commercial bodies, including regional consortia/conferences, have
needed to take many decisions in which rail services through the
Channel Tunnel form an element. Again the lack of any committed
national or regional transport strategies on which to base such
decisions meant that available indications had to be used, and
generally it was assumed that at least the basic level of services
proposed by British Rail would be provided. The failure to provide
this may have seriously undermined regional and local decision
making in some cases.
3. This has considerable relevance for implementation
of the transport White Paper published this year [Ref 4].
Implementation of this will be based in large part on processes
which are not formally established by statute. In particular there
currently exists no national guidelines or framework for the "local
transport plans" which local authorities will prepare, even
though these form a major factor for implementing the White Paper.
Their development should eventually be subject of normal statute,
and the intended Commission for Integrated Transport may well
take on their supervision and guidance. However, a major role
will continue to be played by partnerships and consultative relationship,
and these can only form a sound basis for integrated progress
if Government commit themselves to implementing policy intentions
for which they have stated their support.
Under the Channel Tunnel Act 1986 Section 40,
British Rail made clear proposals for a basic level of regional
Eurostar services but so far they and their successors have failed
to implement these services, despite making the necessary investment.
In response to the Act British Rail also carried out comprehensive
regional consultations which focused aspirations for higher levels
of services. In consequence regional planning and business strategies
which in part depended on these services have been disappointed.
Furthermore confidence in such informal non-statutory
processes as a basis for policy implementation has been undermined.
In the view of CIT UK, this poses fundamental questions over the
Government's ability to implement its transport White Paper of
which so much is expected, largely through such an informal approach
rather than through statutory and other firm commitments.
CIT UK recommends that:
Government should take urgent steps,
in liaison with European Passenger Services and other relevant
organisations, to ensure an early start of the regional Eurostar
services proposed by British Rail in 1989 and for which the investment
has been made.
In the light of this issue Government
should study urgently the need for formal statutory commitments
to implement its White Paper and should in particular consider
what value can be placed on consultations without a mechanism
to put their findings into effect.
10 November 1998
1. British Rail  International Rail Services
for the United Kingdom British Rail, London
2. Institute of British Geographers  Report
on Process on Regional Consultation Institute of British Geographers,
3. British Rail  British Rail, London
Commentary on the Report on Process on Regional Consultation British
4. Department of the Environment, Transport
& the Regions  A New Deal for Transport: Better for
Everyone Department of the Environment, Transport & the Regions,