Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140
WEDNESDAY 26 JANUARY 2000
140. That would be a new line that would be
re-opened. Is that what you are saying?
(Mr Donald) It is reinstating what is now a disused
141. So there will not be a fight about freight
paths in the normal way.
(Mr Donald) We need to deal with someone who can hold
the ring and make sure that you get both the freight and passenger
142. Do you think, in the wider sense, in terms
of the whole question of the Transport Executive Groups that there
is a problema challenge, in many waysfor your very
future, in that the creation of the SRA is going to move matters
away from you instead of towards you?
(Mr Mulligan) In terms of light rail and in the light
of the assurances we have received and are about to receive from
Ministers, we have no such
143. "About to receive"?
(Mr Mulligan) We had an undertaking in the Standing
Committee that Ministers are going to make it clear how these
powers intend to be operated. I have no reason to disbelieve ministerial
promises on that subject. On the wider issue of the SRA, you,
Chair, will know that we gave you fairly substantial evidence
of our concerns about the role of the Strategic Rail Authority
in the provision of local rail services in the course of considering
the Railways Bill.
144. I just want to ask, because I do not know
this, are all of you representing what are, basically, municipal
services? For example, in Manchester, is all of your public transport
(Mr Mulligan) If I can speak on behalf of the group,
none of the public transport in Manchester is municipally run.
We own the Metrolink infrastructure but we franchise it to the
private sector on a franchise of 17 years. Rail services are provided
by private train operating companies and the bus services are
provided by, primarily, First Group and Stagecoach but about 30
to 35 other private sector operators. We are procurers of services
rather than providers.
145. I was interested in the point (and this
is my ignorance again rather than any kind of criticism) you made
that one light rapid transit "thingamybob" would replace
hundreds of buses.
(Mr Mulligan) I did not say "would replace".
146. It was something like that.
(Mr Mulligan) What I said was that in order to replicate
the benefits of light rail in terms of guided bus or bus priority,
bearing in mind the capacity which is available on a light rail
network, you would need to deploy many hundreds of buses in order
to get that number of people moving quickly into town centres.
We are talking, essentially, about a mass transit system.
Chairman: If we can avoid going backwards as
well as forwards.
Mrs Gorman: I was just trying to visualise how
you could get all that many more people on to this system as opposed
to a bus system.
Chairman: Do you have some other matter?
147. No, those were the main things I wanted
to ask. One other thing I wanted to ask was this: there are two
kinds of people using the transport system, there are the locals
getting around and then there are commuters who bring their cars
and leave them somewhere on the side of the road, or in a garage.
Do you think there is any future in the idea of your type of light
rail systems travelling out, perhaps along motorways, to outer
circular routes so that commuters can come that far and then leave
their cars and get on this type of system to come all the way
into town? I know that might sound a bit futuristic but I was
out at the Dome in the Journey sector and thought I would like
to put that to you.
(Mr Scales) On our MRT proposals we had a 1,000-space
Park and Ride scheme adjacent to the M62. Our plans were for cars
to come off the M62, park up and then use MRT into the city. My
colleagues will probably tell you all about the various Park and
Ride schemes that we have on the various networks.
148. So you have already got that running?
(Mr Scales) We have got Park and Ride schemes in all
the country areas.
149. I think if we can avoid going through everybody's
particular Park and Ride scheme. Is there anything else?
(Mr Scales) Just on a clarification, Chair, two of
the PTEs do have ferries which we own and operate as well.
150. Can I just ask one general question and
then a specific one on funding? If I understood the evidence correctly,
both your written submissions and what you have just said today,
it is almost as if there is a competition between buses and light
rail. Should the two not be entirely complementary if we are going
to achieve the Government's desired aim of a fully integrated
(Mr Mulligan) I have been rattling on a great deal,
I will ask Mr Rob Donald to answer.
(Mr Donald) Yes, they should. I think the issue we
have been discussing up to now, in that sense, is whether a bus
solution, which is cheaper on the face of it in capital terms,
can be an alternative to light rail. You are quite right, we are
in the business of promoting an integrated public transport system.
That is not particularly easy in some cases, but that is what
we are about. I think you heard two weeks ago from the general
manager of the West Midlands' Midland Metro, and he was saying
to you that we have actually integrated successfully both the
information and the ticketing and, indeed, the re-routing of bus
services to interlink with the first Midland Metro line. I think
the Chair probed the individual and said "Is that because
they are all run by the same company?", and he said "Yes,
they are". So, in that sense, we know how to integrate in
the privatised world, and there are issues, clearly, about the
Transport Bill as to whether one can achieve that integration
through quality partnerships and through voluntary arrangements.
I think our view is that yes, you can potentially, but there are
obviously problems where actually the correct commercial reaction
of a bus company may well be not to integrate with a light rail
project but actually to see it as a competitive threat and, therefore,
to make the normal commercial reaction, which is not to take their
customers and put them on to rail. So there are issues of that
sort, and we will be addressing that and looking at whether quality
contracts have a part to play in ensuring that integration. Certainly
there is nothing in the Bill, at the moment, for example, that
will require bus operators to have integrated ticketing with light
rail or, indeed, heavy rail systems.
Chairman: Gentlemen, we have a lot of questions,
can I ask you to be a tiny bit more disciplined?
151. Although one shudders to use the European
example, in Brussels you buy a Carnet, which is ten tickets on
one card and it is fully integrated, and that is how I hope we
will eventually be. Towards that end, do you think it is practical
and appropriate to factor in funding hypothecation from possible
congestion charging and workplace parking charges?
(Mr Mulligan) Certainly the discussions that I and
colleagues have been having with DETR do anticipate the time when
workplace car park charging and congestion charging will be in
place. In Greater Manchester all 11 authorities are partners with
Government in investigating those options, and a fair proportion
in the West Midlands. I think when it comes to integrated through-ticketing,
the Bill goes a certain way in delivering that in terms of ensuring
bus operators collaborate. I think what we want, as a PTEGand
I am slightly straying from the subject because it is about through-ticketing
per seis to see a rather stronger provision in the Bill
that all modes of public transport should be included, perhaps
by regulation from the Secretary of State.
152. Could that be achieved?
(Mr Mulligan) We think so, yes.
153. I assume it takes quite a bit of planning
and permission given for a light rail to be fitted. What changes
do you think should be made to the Transport and Works Act procedures
in order to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for promoters
and objectors to put their case for and against these schemes?
(Mr Scales) Firstly, the guidance that we have currently
got was issued in 1992, so we think it is due for revision anyway,
from DETR. DETR have their own target to meet, from the receipt
of the public inquiry Inspector's report to actually issuing a
decision, of six months. In our case for MRT they met that six
months, but in other schemes we are still waiting for a decision.
If I can just break it up into three areas, as far as DETR input
is concerned, prior to the public inquiry, if they could formally
sign off the economic appraisal before the inquiry starts and
give that to the Inspector for an indication, that would help
a lot. A clear policy statement from DETR in relation to the effect
on bus operators' jobs would help us a lot. So would a clear policy
statement on legal mattersin other words on government
policy in relation to the requirement for provision of exchange
land (and that is actually detailed in my evidence). As part of
the process of obtaining a statement of use from appropriate local
authorities should we also think about including HMRI in that,
the Vehicle Inspectorate and English Heritage, so that when we
actually get to the public inquiry stage those statutory bodies
have already made their case in terms of the scheme itself? Also,
make sure that whilst the inquiry is running, proofs of evidence
that are supplied by the objectors are supplied three weeks before
the inquiry starts. In our case we had huge objections from Redrow,
for example, which were submitted during the inquiry, which only
gave us overnight to respond. Redrow are a large organisation
and they were deploying four expert witnesses, so if the guidance
is three weeks before, it should be stated that that is the case.
As far as the Inspector is concerned, we think it would be helpful
if included with the Inspector's report there was a summary of
both sides of the discussion on each point, so that DETR get a
much more informed case. Also, the Inspector should instruct that
inquiry discussions should be of a local nature and not try to
interpret government policy, which is what happened in our case,
when we went for hours and hours trying to interpret what the
Government was supposed to be guiding us towards. On the day-to-day
running of the inquiry we think the DETR should have an observer
there, so that when they get the Inspector's Report, which can
be 500 pages long, at least the DETR have got a person who has
been through the inquiry and can help inform the decision. Also,
when the inquiry is operating, we should be given, as promoters
on this side of the table, adequate time to respond to objectors
proofs of evidence. What tends to happen is you get them during
the inquiry and you have got to answer them, and they can be tremendously
detailed, complicated noise or emissions or whatever type arguments.
You have to have time to do that. For the purposes of the Committee,
Chair, I will set that down in writing and send it to the Clerk.
We think it is high time that it was revised, because the guidance
was issued in 1992 and we have come a long way since then.
154. Would that not be inclined to put light
rail scheme promoters off?
(Mr Scales) No, I do not think so, because the other
issue is that under the new approach to transport appraisal it
is horses for courses and we have to go through a process ourselves
of saying "Can we do the scheme with bus?" "Can
we do it with bus-plus?" (ie, guided bus). "Can we use
trolley buses, light rail or, indeed, heavy rail?" So I do
not think it will put promoters off, it will make it easier for
us to understand what the parameters are and to understand what
the timescales are.
155. You still have the same problem with bus
routes, when a new bus route comes on stream.
(Mr Scales) No, bus routes are not captured by the
TWA unless they are guided bus routes. Colleagues have got similar
schemes going through the TWA process at the moment.
156. It is much simpler just to have a bus route,
without all of that.
(Mr Scales) That is right. You register a bus route
with the Traffic Commissioner and six weeks later you can operate
that route, subject to having an operator's licence and everything.
157. Manchester's big bang. What are the advantages
(Mr Mulligan) Big bang, we term the single contract
when we refer to it publically. Essentially, we have four extensions
which are under development or have been developed. One is to
Oldham and Rochdale in the north east of the country, one south
to Manchester Airport, which is a huge economic generator and
has a target of 25 per cent public transport penetration within
the next few years, and one east to Ashton. If you look at the
schemes individually, you will find that the aggregate of the
capital costs is some 10 to 15 per cent less than if schemes were
to be done separately. This arises in terms of civil engineering.
If you let one single contract, one of the major problems that
a civil engineer has is the availability of possessions (as they
are called) that they can move aroundmaterial, people,
etc. The real, substantial savings arise on the scale of the order
of trams that you can make, however. If I order five or six trams
then the likelihood is that the supplier is going to charge of
the order of £1.5 million per tram. If you order 50, the
likelihood is you will be charged a unit cost of about £1
million per tram because, obviously, the supplier has to set up
a special line in the factory, rejig it and so on. If you can
look at somebody like Ansaldo in Italy, it produces something
like 400 trams a year. They get very excited when the order is
50, 60 or 70 trams, but they are rather less enthusiastic by an
order of about five.
158. I wonder why!
(Mr Mulligan) We also think that in terms of the private
sector they have seen the major success of Metrolink Phase 1and,
in fact, they contributed over £100 million of the £160
million towards Phase 2and that the benefits in the individual
scheme would generate a concession value, but for the three schemes
the whole is greater than the sum of the partsif I can
get the quote rightand we think that will be quite substantial.
We see a major effect on the reduction in car trips on the completed
network of about 10 million trips per annum. Car kilometres, we
think, will fall by about 50 million per year and the Gross Domestic
Product will increase. This is the subject of research by the
Centre of Economic and Business Research, which is a very respectable
body and, in fact, has been used by the Government. Their research
shows that the benefits to the Greater Manchester economy will
be of the order of £170 million per annum, and I am quite
happy, through you, Chair, to release that evidence to the Committee.
Putting aside construction jobs, 6,000 permanent jobs would be
159. Outside construction?
(Mr Mulligan) Outside construction, within the conurbation,
as a result of increased economic activity in Greater Manchester.
So there are all of those things, combined with the fact that
whilst the gross capital cost is of the order of £500 million
we think we can secure some £250 million from the private
sector from developers and from saved public expenditure elsewhere.