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

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 190)



  180. Do we need a common approach to funding? What are the benefits of that sort of deal?
  (Mr Mulligan) I think that the system that is being used in France where there is a levy made on frontages and so on is a system that is worth investigating. At the moment if you take Oldham/Rochdale, which is a very, very heavily developed line, there will be development gain as a consequence of the conversion but if it is going to happen anyway to that degree the frontages will benefit anyway.

  181. The difficulty will be getting the quid pro quo. Can you tell us about long-term effects using proposals made by the utility companies on the cost of diverting their utilities?
  (Mr Donald) Yes. We were very disappointed, chair, in the reduction from an 18 per cent contribution to a seven and a half per cent contribution to the works that are required there to divert utilities for light rail projects. The reasons for that were quite simple. In our experience the utilities gained at least 18 per cent of the cost in terms of the betterment, the fact that we have to dig them up and they were able to improve the cables and the piping.

  182. Did you get consulted by the Treasury?
  (Mr Donald) We got consulted and indeed it was a long-running discussion.

  183. But you did not persuade them?
  (Mr Donald) We did not persuade them and to put salt on the wound we have not had an explanation from the Government as to how they arrived at the seven and a half per cent figure and why they went that way.

  184. That is something that needs to be pursued.
  (Mr Donald) It increases the costs obviously of light rail projects particularly those light rail projects that run on the highway.
  (Mr Mulligan) £5 million is the expected bill on us in the contract.

  185. Is that in your evidence?
  (Mr Mulligan) Yes it is, but I will give you a note.

  186. How significant is the impact of proposals to charge for the Railways Inspectorate?
  (Mr Scott) Light rail and heavy rail are already paying charges to the Railways Inspectorate for approval of new works and approval of safety cases, but I am not aware of any further intention to apply charges to light rail.

  187. But there is a suggestion that it should be done on a different basis which might increase the overall cost.
  (Mr Scott) I am not aware of it because the charges for the safety case and new works only came in last October.

  188. So already there is a built-in—
  (Mr Scott) That was after consultation with the Health and Safety Executive and they implemented those charges last October.

  189. Quality Contracts, gentlemen? Necessary?
  (Mr Donald) I think we covered that in the answer to Miss McIntosh's questions. We do want to see integration and it can clearly be guaranteed through a Quality Contract arrangement. Quality partnerships does require obviously willing partners in there and, as I said earlier, there may situations in light rail where the proper commercial reaction of a bus company is actually to compete rather than integrate with light rail. I think the jury is still out as to whether statutorily underpinned quality partnerships can play a part.

  190. What about track sharing? Although it would appear to be very attractive for some point of views, what is it going to do if you are faced with a capacity problem?
  (Mr Scott) The capacity problem has largely been overcome by the improvements in signalling. For our own scheme in Tyne and Wear, the intention is to share heavy rail with light rail and freight and passenger will be operating on our route.

  Chairman: Safety implementation on the trams and light rail and new signalling should deal with capacity problems. That is very helpful. Gentlemen, you have all been very useful. Thank you very much.

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