Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
WEDNESDAY 12 JANUARY 2000
40. Has it been an improvement on what was there
(Mr Depledge) It has certainly been an improvement
over the previous Private Bill system, but I believe there is
still some work which needs to be undertaken to look at some of
the implications of the Act.
(Mr Harman) It was something we produced a report
on and I think you are aware of. Certainly I would agree that
it has brought improvements. Nonetheless, there are a number of
areas in which it does need to be sharpened up, one of which is
the question of not discussing principles. We feel that the inquiry
is much more into a scheme, but there is almost a first stage
process which is the broad rationale of the scheme and that is
now answered by the developing local transport plans. The other
issue is that the process also takes in the land use planning
implications. That is one of the recommendations you will find
in our Report.
(Mr Coates) As there is now provision in the Transport
Bill for making transport plans statutory we think there is a
golden opportunity for clarifying the relationship between transport
plans and the schemes under the Transport and Works Act to avoid
the need to go over the same ground again on a TWA Order. There
is no such a provision in the Bill at the moment and we think
that is a pity.
41. How could the Government streamline its
funding towards these schemes? Is there somewhere that the Government
should be putting pots of money or cutting out some of the bureaucracy?
There are a number of schemes I have heard of that have fallen
by the wayside because there is not the necessary funds and yet
the Government just seems to put barriers in the way instead of
the opposite, which is to try to promote it and to have the whole
(Mr Coates) You mean under the Transport and Works
42. I am talking about in general terms.
(Mr Coates) There is a particular point; under the
Transport and Works Act there are greater financial burdens on
promoters than there were under the Parliamentary procedure and
one of the detailed proposals we made in our report was aimed
at trying to make that easier for promoters by clarifying the
extent of financial information that is required at the point
when an Order is brought forward. More generally, on the funding
of these schemes, we do think that it needs to be done as part
of a strategy and we think that in principle it should be possible
to fund these schemes partly from the proceeds of congestion charging
43. We have that one. Mr Olner?
44. One very, very quick question, how successful
do you think the efforts are going to be to integrate light rail
and bus services while bus services remain deregulated outside
(Mr Lusher) There is a good example of that in the
West Midlands, not far from Mr Olner's constituency, under a deregulated
situation where, in fact, the bus services, the local rail services
and indeed the metro services have all been integrated both as
to timetable, interchanges and indeed with an integrated tariff.
I believe there is no reason at all to suppose that in a deregulated
environment that will not continue.
45. Is the rail company and the bus company
(Mr Lusher) In that case they are under the same ownership,
Chairman: I wondered if that was the case.
46. Fundamentally, in most European countries
where tramway systems work the housing densities are much higher
than they are in most English cities. Do you really think that
there are many English cities where housing densities are high
enough to make a tramway system work?
(Mr Depledge) If I may answer that very briefly. You
are quite right, there is this whole question of the suburbanisation
in the United Kingdom. There are still many locations and many
situations where there are high passenger flows that will justify
investment in light rail which would be necessary to produce an
efficient service for very large numbers of people, one driver
dealing with large numbers of people on one tram. I do not think
you can generalise purely on the housing density point.
(Mr Harman) I think that does open up a very interesting
point. I fully support what Mr Depledge has said. I think it is
interesting that a fair number of countries in mainland Europe
have a much closer cohesion in city planning and indeed in regional
planning between the land use planning and the transport planning.
We are moving towards that with the Local Transport Plans and
the regional strategies. The Local Transport Plans are in their
infancy. We are also moving the other way with planning policy
guidance from the planning side of the DETR. If you look at practical
structures there are still very great weaknesses, they are not
driven one by the other, even at local level yet. That is improving.
The key message is that we are a long way behind putting the two
together. If tramways can address key flows and mass movementgiven
that we are under pressure to provide more housing in this country,
there are the recommendations of the Urban Task Force to raise
urban qualitythen actually judging light rail in conjunction
with all other schemes on local transport and planning against
those other targets and also adjusting land use strategies for
them will also move towards seeing things in the right context.
47. Telephone, gas, electricity and water companies
are all making very big profits but they are going to have to
pay rather less to move their lines, if you like, their pipes
and things when these tramway systems are put into place, is that
(Mr Depledge) It is an issue which we as an industry
feel rather aggrieved about. We have made the point in our written
evidence. We do believe that there are benefits that utilities
accrue when equipment is moved and there is betterment, that is
the technical term.
48. Are they not paying enough for betterment?
(Mr Depledge) We believe that the contribution which
light rail has to make is somewhat more than the contributions
from other organisations who need to move utility equipment. We
would like the Government to re-think that point.
49. As far as the Manchester Metro is concerned
the good news is the system, the bad news is that the old railway
lines used to allow people to ride their bike to the station,
take their bike on the old train and then ride their bike in to
work, but the Metro has thrown the bikes off. Do you think that
is inherent in the tramway system, that you cannot have that integration?
(Mr Depledge) I suspect, and without being fully briefed,
the reason why they may have decided to do that is to do with
the number of people travelling at peak times. They must make
a judgment about the capacity and safety angles. I have to say
I have no direct knowledge of that.
Mr Bennett: Could we have bigger trams?
50. Mr Lusher, bigger trams?
(Mr Lusher) In the case of the West Midlands as a
safety feature the Railway Inspectorate were very keen to ensure
that bikes were not taken on to trams. We have cycle racks under
surveillance by CCTV at every stop.
Mr Bennett: You need two bikes, then, one at
Chairman: I am very grateful to you gentlemen,
it has been very helpful.