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

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260 - 272)



  260. What else did you do and have you updated it?
  (Mr Willis) We have not updated it. One of the main things that happened since then is significant growth on the national rail network and the opportunities we looked at there, we looked for example at the East London line and the Central line. They are not feasible today because we are talking about higher volumes of traffic.

  261. So when we say there is a lot of underused line we may not be absolutely accurate?
  (Mr Willis) There are some lightly used lines in possibly one or two places.

  Chairman: Gentlemen, I do not want to detain you much longer.

Mrs Gorman

  262. May I ask one more question as a London to Essex commuter. Is there anything that you can see in your light rail experience that can do anything to relieve the kind of congestion you get on the feeder roads when you come into London when you have left the M11 and M12 at the Old Kent Road, the Mile End Road and Harrow Road and all the major feeder lines? Is there anything that you can envisage in your armoury here that will do anything to assist that?
  (Dr Quarmby) There are some very interesting and controversial questions about the use of park and ride to bring commuters to stations that are inside the M25. There are pros and cons of doing that. Certainly London does not have much experience of the kind of strategic park and ride which you do find in other cities in the United Kingdom and across Europe and in the United States. It is an area that bears further examination. There is always the risk, which has been frequently quoted, that by providing park and ride you attract even more commuters to drive for a portion of their journey and then make the last bit by light rail rather than getting a commuter train from somewhere in Essex and coming all the way by train.

  263. Use of the roads rather than the train already indicates that you need something extra to tempt them?
  (Dr Quarmby) I think the truth is that park and ride would induce some people to drive some of the way rather than use rail all the way. It would also induce some people to stop their car half way on their journey and not drive all the way into central London. We have not yet had a lot experience of formal park and ride in London although there is a huge amount of informal park and ride that already takes place all round London.
  (Mr Willis) There is another significant role and that is as feeders to the main radial network. From East Croydon station it takes you 15 minutes to get to Victoria. Essentially we are providing some very high quality rail feeders to that with good interchange at East Croydon which is effectively extending the catchment of that excellent service out along the feeders out to places where we expect people to use the car.

  264. How much of DLR's success was due to the fact that you had access to money from the London Docklands Development Corporation?
  (Dr Quarmby) I was not around at the time, Chairman, and I cannot answer that question in terms of the direct availability of money. I do not know if Ian Brown can.
  (Mr Brown) LDDC had loads of money. I think that is undeniable. It was a very strong, aggressive plan and it worked with the railway and brought those planning things together and put more brought money into that equation, great, but I think more recently with the Lewisham extension which was funded as a public private partnership, it did not come from largesse to the railway from LDC and the next extension is on the same basis. It had a role at a certain point in time but it is not the whole history of the railway.

  265. What about the cost of light rapid transit projects? Are they increased by the risks faced by private sector participants?
  (Dr Quarmby) The reward to risk that private sector participants require obviously is reflected in the final cost of the project.

  266. So that is a yes.
  (Dr Quarmby) It is but it is balanced by the financial and other disciplines that are brought to bear in the construction of a project for which we had very significant evidence in the construction of the Lewisham extension which, as you know, was opened two months early and on budget.

  267. Did anybody use a public sector comparator on that bit?
  (Dr Quarmby) I believe it was. I do not have it in front of me.

  268. Would somebody like to look at it and see whether we got good value for money on that. It would be interesting to know.
  (Dr Quarmby) We can certainly do that for you.

  269. Thank you very much. Do you think the success of light rail is because it looks good and its image is good and therefore it is much more comfortable in every sense than travelling on a bus which might be regarded as rather down market?
  (Dr Quarmby) There are definite differences in the performance and the service and the product between rail-borne light rail and a road-borne bus, yes.

  270. How do you narrow that quality gap?
  (Dr Quarmby) You can narrow the quality gap by improving the quality and ride of the buses, but I think the most important thing is where you can provide a dedicated right-of-way for the bus itself so that both the ride and the interruption from and to other traffic is kept to a minimum.

  Mrs Gorman: You might try to get a few more cheerful drivers who take your money and conductors in some cases—I am going to get my knuckles rapped for this—but if they were more welcoming and said, "Hello, welcome to our bus."

  Chairman: Nice welcoming drivers.

Mr Bennett

  271. Surely much more important is an automatic ticketing system so that you do not have any delay with people getting on the bus?
  (Dr Quarmby) You do not have to. You can do that with any mode of transport. It is not peculiar to light rail or peculiar to bus.
  (Mr Smith) Your point is the essential issue about light rapid transit, and does it really have this quality image that you cannot replicate any other way with buses? One of the things that we are being very careful about in Croydon is to do an awful lot of work to research how people regard it before hand, afterwards, and how they have responded to it to try and make sure we understand that and we are able to put in a proper evaluation to determine whether light rail or guided bus is the right option. All the things that have been spoken about are part of the ingredients of good buses and one of the things we are doing at the moment is to make sure we have automated ticketing systems and so on to really make sure that (the point made before) we are comparing the best bus with light rail.


  272. Your predecessors many years ago took away my 628 that I used to go to school on and now you are going to put it back. Is that what I understand?
  (Mr Smith) That is possible.

  Chairman: Would that life were as simple as it was when I went to school on a 628! Gentlemen, you have been very kind. Thank you very much indeed.

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