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

Memorandum by London Transport (RT 27)


  1.1  Under the London Regional Transport Act of 1984 London Regional Transport has statutory duties to provide or secure public transport services in London with due regard for efficiency, economy and safety of operation. London Transport procures bus services throughout London through tendered contracts with private operators which specify route, frequencies and fares and operates the Underground sub-surface and deep "tube" trains through its subsidiary company, London Underground Ltd. London Transport also runs Victoria Coach Station Limited and licenses river services.

  1.2  London Transport was responsible for the planning, design, construction and initial operation of the first three stages of the Docklands Light Railway in east London and the planning of the fourth stage, the Lewisham Extension, due to open shortly. London Transport is responsible for the Croydon Tramlink project in south London which will also open shortly, operated under a franchise agreement with a private consortium.

  1.3  London Transport is currently developing plans for five Intermediate Mode or Light Rapid Transit systems in various parts of London. A range of bus based and rail based schemes is being considered for these. An initial part of one scheme, an electronically guided bus based system, known as Millennium Transit, has been constructed to provide a shuttle service from Charlton Railway Station to the Millennium Dome at North Greenwich.


  2.1  London Transport uses the term "Intermediate Modes" for the range of public transport modes lying between the conventional bus and the Underground or heavy rail systems. In London Transport's view the term "Intermediate Modes" is synonymous with the term "Light Rapid Transit" and encompasses systems with the following general characteristics:

    —  Segregated alignments (surface, elevated or tunnel) or running in the street with a high level of priority over other traffic;

    —  Systems which have a greater flexibility than conventional railways in terms of negotiating tight corners and steep gradients, and which use lighter vehicles;

    —  Vehicles of modern design with high levels of comfort and ambience;

    —  High capacity vehicles which are fully accessible for disabled people and have stops with level boarding (this also improves access for many other passengers);

    —  Environmentally friendly diesel, gas or electrically powered vehicles;

    —  Well designed stops which are equipped with shelters, real time information, CCTV etc;

    —  Construction timescales shorter, and costs significantly lower, than conventional Underground or heavy rail systems.

  2.2  There are many examples in European cities illustrating the above range of Light Rapid Transit system attributes. These include:

    —  Guided Busway: Leeds (mechanically guided), London Millennium Transit (electronically guided), Paris Val-de-Marne (trials of various forms of guidance and vehicles);

    —  Light Rail/Trams—mainly street running: Sheffield, Amsterdam, and Zurich;

    —  Light Rail/Trams—mainly segregated running: Manchester, Birmingham, Croydon and Paris;

    —  Automatic Light Rail/Light Metro—fully segregated: London Docklands, Lille, and Vancouver.

    London Transport's knowledge and experience of Light Rapid Transit systems outside the UK is summarised in Annex 1.

  2.3  There are other "light" transport systems such as those known as "People Movers" usually with small vehicles running automatically on segregated guideways, as found at Gatwick airport, and systems such as Monorails as found, for example, in a number of Japanese cities. These more specialist systems are not considered in this submission.


  3.1  London's public transport network with its three principal systems—the National Rail network, the Underground network and the Bus network, is one of the most extensive in the world. Most Londoners are within 400 metres of a bus stop and a majority are within 800 metres of an Underground or National Rail station. Changes are continuously made to the network, most frequently to the bus network and to a lesser extent on the rail network, in response to changes in demand and passenger needs, and to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the services. Whilst there is little doubt that the network needs to be improved in terms of capacity, speed, reliability and quality of service, the need to extend the network and possibly introduce new types of systems may be less obvious.

  3.2  Development of London's public transport network is however necessary, for a number of reasons including:

    —  Responding to land use changes and development proposals, for example the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

    —  Responding to specific proposals such as the Millennium Dome.

    —  Supporting the regeneration of areas such as Docklands and the Thames Gateway.

    —  Supporting a range of policy initiatives such as encouraging further use of public transport, providing an attractive alternative to the car, improving access to town centres and reducing social exclusion.

    —  Increasing the capacity of the system to reduce congestion on key routes or corridors and improve the quality of travelling conditions.

  3.3  In the majority of cases the appropriate solution will be to improve or develop one of the existing modes rather than introduce a new system. Circumstances where it may be appropriate to consider an alternative such as a Light Rapid Transit system are as follows:

    —  Where line capacity requirements are relatively high (in the range 2,000-10,000 people per hour) but not sufficiently high to justify a heavy rail or Underground.

    —  Where perhaps a higher quality service is required, in terms of speed, reliability and comfort, in comparison with the conventional bus.

  More contentious arguments can be put forward including:

    —  Where a service with a particular image quality is required to meet a specific transport or development objective.

    —  Where there are specific environmental objectives eg for a service running through a pedestrianised area.

  The Light Rapid Transit systems currently operating or under development in London fall into one or more of these categories.

  3.4  Plans for the further development of Light Rapid Transit in London need to be considered in the context of the overall strategy for the development of public transport and plans for the development of the individual modes.

Bus Services

  In addition to the many changes to bus service routes and frequencies each year, London Transport Buses has a wide ranging programme of developments aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of services. Current initiatives include:

    —  Completion of the 800 km London Bus Priority Network in conjunction with the London boroughs, with resources now concentrating on priorities on whole bus routes.

    —  Introduction of modern low-floor wheelchair accessible buses through the tendering process.

    —  New interchanges, improved stops, shelters and real time and static information.

    —  Extensions to the bus network, including night buses and extra resources to improve reliability.

    —  Simplification of fares and fare collection methods, including bus stop ticket machines.

    —  Introduction of low emission vehicles.

London Underground

  The Underground investment plan includes many projects to renew and modernise the network and stations. The intention is that these will be undertaken by the private sector under the PPP project to be implemented over the next 12-18 months. Current plans to expand the network which will not be funded from the PPP process include:

    —  Extension of the Piccadilly line to Heathrow Terminal 5 if this goes ahead.

    —  CrossRail and the Chelsea-Hackney lines to improve access and add extra capacity in the central area—projects which are currently without funding but are safeguarded.

National Rail Network

  Railtrack's Network Management Statement identifies a number of plans to develop London's rail network. These include:

    —  The Thameslink 2000 project to improve the capacity and develop cross London services.

    —  The second stage of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from Kent to St. Pancras station.

    —  In conjunction with BAA plc, a number of proposals to improve rail connections and services to Heathrow Airport.

    —  In conjunction with London Underground, proposals to extend the East London line and run through services from the western region onto the Circle line.

  3.5  In July 2000 transport in London and the development of the network will become the responsibility of the new Mayor. A new authority Transport for London will be created to help develop and implement the Integrated Transport Strategy for London which the Mayor will be required to produce. This strategy will encompass bus, rail, Light Rapid Transit and highway areas and will be the blueprint which determines transport policies for the capital and the strategies and priorities for development of the network, including Light Rapid Transit.


  4.1  London Transport has been involved in the planning, development and implementation of Light Rapid Transit systems in London for nearly 20 years. This work has focused on five areas:

    —  The needs of the Docklands regeneration area which led to the construction of the four stages of the Docklands Light Railway.

    —  The potential wider role of light rail in London which led to the construction of the Croydon Tramlink.

    —  The transport needs of the Millennium Dome and the Millennium Village which has led to the construction of the Millennium Transit guided busway.

    —  The potential role of Intermediate Modes and transport needs in outer London which has led to the development of a number of proposals.

    —  The transport needs of the central area which has led to the development of the Cross River Transit proposal in conjunction with the Cross River Partnership.

  The following sections summarise work in each of these five areas in turn.

4.2  Docklands Light Railway

  Responsibility for the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) lay with London Transport from its planning inception in around 1980 until 1994 when Government decided responsibility should be transferred to the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC). In 1998 the LDDC was wound up and responsibility for the DLR passed to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR). From next July the DLR will become the responsibility of the Mayor and Transport for London.

  4.3  The DLR was conceived as a lower cost alternative to an extension of the Underground and more appropriate to the emerging needs of the Docklands development area. A system was required which met the then modest anticipated travel demands for the area and could be built within a relatively short period in order to meet the timescales for completion of significant development. Light rail options were compared against conventional buses running on a partially segregated busway and the conventional cost-benefit evaluation showed that the busway would perform better than the light rail system. In the event, the case was argued that the light rail would have a better image and would encourage more development. Government agreed that the light rail project should proceed, justified by a combination of transport and regeneration benefits.

  4.4  The initial 11km DLR network connecting Tower Gateway and Stratford to the Isle of Dogs opened in 1987 and soon exceeded its demand forecasts of 22,000 passengers a day. The project was built on a design and construct basis, the first time this had been used in modern times for a railway in the UK. The initial railway was constructed on a combination of former railway rights of way and new elevated viaducts across the former docks. The use of light weight trains allowed the reuse of old railway structures, some of which had not been used for nearly 60 years. This would not have been possible with a heavy rail system which would have been significantly more costly than the £77 million for the DLR.

  4.5  A decision was taken to fully automate the DLR train operations. This was strongly influenced by the LDDC who wanted to use the system to project a modern "high tech" image for the area. Full driverless automation, as used on the DLR, has the advantage that the train crew or "captain" can undertake other duties such as checking fares and providing passenger information but adds significantly to the cost and complexity of the system and does not allow street operation.

  4.6  Soon after the railway opened, development of the Docklands area rapidly continued and changed in character, notably with the arrival of the Canary Wharf development, which took the employment forecasts way beyond the LDDC expectations. A fourfold increase in the capacity of the DLR was required. New signalling, train and platform lengthening and extensions to Bank and to Beckton were implemented in an intense period of development over a seven year period, although the latter extension failed to immediately stimulate further office development as expected by the LDDC. During this time the railway suffered greatly from unreliability and periodic shutdown.

  4.7  By the end of the 1980s it was realised that the capacity constraints of the DLR would impose an unacceptable constraint on the future development of the Docklands. Although a strategic review suggested further extensions of the DLR—including the extension under the river to Lewisham, due to open shortly—these would not provide sufficient additional capacity and so planning commenced on an extension of the Underground—the Jubilee line extension.

  4.8  Today the DLR is running at capacity on the city branch and in total carries over 100,000 people a day. As well as providing for the main commuter flow to and from the Isle of Dogs, with is frequent services, close stop spacing and fully accessible trains and stations the DLR fulfils a local transport role for the area between that of the conventional bus and the rail network. Annual surveys for the Isle of Dogs show that public transport is now carrying around 45 per cent of all daily journeys to and from the area in comparison with around 30 per cent when the line was first opened. When the Jubilee line extension opens the DLR will provide the second tier of an excellent hierarchy of public transport services in east London linking and feeding key interchanges with the other networks at major interchanges such as Bank, Stratford, Canning Town, Greenwich and Lewisham.

  4.9  DLR Ltd has advanced plans to provide a link to the London City Airport. Plans are also in hand to explore the possibility for extending the DLR under the river to Woolwich Arsenal. Current studies by London Transport and DLR Ltd. are comparing the costs and benefits of the light rail alternative to the heavy rail alternative. The attached plan shows the DLR network.

4.10  Croydon Tramlink

  Following the approval of the first stage of the DLR, interest grew in the possibility of further light rail schemes in London. In conjunction with British Rail, London Transport initiated a study of the possibilities and a report "Light Rail for London?" was produced which set out the potential role for such systems and made a number of recommendations for further study. The study recommended that further consideration be given to the development of a light rail network focused on Croydon Town centre. Other recommended schemes relating to conversion of the outer parts of the Central line and the East London line have not been pursued.

  4.11  London Transport initiated a number of planning, engineering and evaluation studies for the Croydon area. These showed that a light rail network would give a positive benefit to cost ratio and was worth pursuing. Discussions with the London borough of Croydon showed that the scheme would also fit in with their aspirations for the environment and the economic development of the town centre. Whilst Croydon had experienced a boom in office development in the 1960s and 70s the construction of the M25 and investment in neighbouring town centres had reduced the attractiveness of the town centre. The light rail proposal was seen by the Council as a means to "put Croydon back on the map" and increase the transport capacity of routes to the town centre without the need for increased car traffic and possibly new road construction. The project would also connect the residential estate of New Addington more closely and conveniently to Croydon town centre, thereby helping this area of 25,000 people with significant social and economic problems.

  4.12  The Croydon Tramlink was therefore jointly developed by London Transport and the Council through the design and development stages and through the parliamentary process, where the Bill was jointly promoted by both organisations. The Bill was enacted in July 1994.

  4.13  The project comprises 28 km of route with 38 stops as shown on the plan. The three legs of the network converge on a single track clockwise loop encompassing the town centre and connecting to both east and west Croydon stations. Twenty-four low floor articulated trams have been built and will provide a service on three routes. Croydon Tramlink is planned to open later this year.

  4.14  Tramlink is being built by the private sector (Tramtrack Croydon Ltd.) under a concession agreement with London Transport. From an early stage Government indicated their requirement for the private sector to be closely involved in the project. In 1992, following a competitive process, a Project Development Agreement was signed with a consortium involving an operator, an equipment supplier and a construction company. This Project Development Group assisted London Transport and the London borough of Croydon in the development of the project and progression of the Bill through parliament.

  4.15  Following the granting of Royal Assent for the Bill, Government indicated that, in principle, it would be willing to contribute towards the capital costs of constructing Tramlink. The project was taken forward under the Government's Private Finance Initiative and London Transport held a competition for a 99 year concession to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Tramlink systems. Bids were invited against a Performance Specification produced by London Transport and the powers granted by the Act of Parliament. During the course of the competition, government confirmed the award of £125 million of grant towards the total project cost of around £200 million. The proportion of Government grant is one of the lowest for all the recent UK light rail schemes.

  4.16  London Transport awarded the Concession to the private sector consortium TCL in November 1996. Under the Concession Agreement TCL is awarded all the rights and given the obligation to construct and operate Tramlink. The Concession Agreement also sets out the division of risks between the parties. In essence the risks transferred to TCL include:

    —  the design, construction and commissioning of the system;

    —  operation and maintenance of the completed system; and

    —  ridership and general business risk.

  London Transport has taken the risk on the diversion of statutory utilities equipment and the compulsory acquisition of property.

  4.17  Demand forecasts estimated that Tramlink will attract some 25 million passengers per annum. It is anticipated that the system will be used for a wide range of journeys, to the town centres of Croydon and Wimbledon, for employment, shopping and leisure purposes and via the connections with the National Rail and Underground services to other destinations, particularly central London. Changes to local bus services in the area are planned to provide an integrated network of feeder and complementary services. These will be adjusted in response to the actual changes in demand following the opening of the system. The evaluation of the project estimated that around 10 per cent of Tramlink users would be people transferring from cars.

  4.18  A number of "before and after" surveys are in hand or planned to understand the effects of Tramlink on travel patterns in the area and to improve our understanding of how people respond to the service quality changes. Of particular interest is the comparison people make between buses and trams and how this affects travel behaviour, especially to what extent the tram can provide an attractive alternative to use of the car. The research is aimed to explore this topic in some depth to assist the further consideration of such projects in London.

4.19  Plans for Intermediate Modes in Outer London

  Following the successful progression of the Tramlink project to implementation stage a number of local authorities approached London Transport requesting consideration of light rail projects in their area. A decision was taken to explore the potential for such schemes in outer London for the following reasons:

    —  there are many orbital journeys which are difficult to make by rail as the network is less dense;

    —  the overall modal share by car is typically much higher than in inner and central London at around 75 per cent;

    —  road congestion is growing; and

    —  there are several requirements, especially in east London, to serve new developments.

  4.20  In order to assess the transport needs in a consistent manner London Transport invited the outer London local authorities to come forward with suggestions of corridors or links where, in their view, local transport services needed to be improved. Some 65 ideas resulted which were consolidated into around forty-five possible schemes. These were considered by London Transport in a preliminary evaluation and reported in the document: "New Ideas for Public Transport in Outer London". The evaluation considered the likely benefits of investing in improved public transport and other factors such as the degree to which the scheme might meet wider borough planning and environmental objectives. This led to a short list of nine areas for further consideration where significant investment might prove worthwhile. During 1997 these nine areas were subject to a second stage of studies which was reported in the document "New Ideas for Public Transport in Outer London—Development of Case Studies". Following further discussion with the boroughs involved it was agreed that four of these nine proposals should be fully evaluated. The other five schemes are either being progressed as improved bus corridors or may be considered for Light Rapid Transit at a later stage. The four schemes in outer London are shown on the plan and are:

    —  Barking, to provide north-south links between the Thames-side development areas, existing developed areas and the radial transport interchanges.

    —  Romford, similarly to provide north-south links between the Thames-side development areas, existing developed areas and the radial transport interchanges.

    —  Greenwich, to improve links between Greenwich, Woolwich and Thamesmead and the main transport interchanges, in particular North Greenwich on the Jubilee line.

    —  Uxbridge Road, to serve the town centres of Uxbridge, Southall, and Ealing and Shepherd's Bush, also filling a gap in the radial rail network.

  4.21  In reaching agreement with the appropriate London borough Councils to progress these schemes two important principles were established. The first was that not just light rail schemes were to be considered; rather the range of appropriate Light Rapid Transit modes and "best-bus" alternatives. The second was that where the schemes were to run on-street—as to a large extent in all cases—they would need to be granted a very high degree of priority over other traffic. London Transport felt it particularly important that this second principle was recognised at an early stage as without it the speed and reliability of the new system would be insufficient to make the schemes attractive to car users. The concept of a "virtuous circle" was put forward whereby the introduction of a new service with a high degree of priority over other traffic would introduce a step change in the quality of public transport. This in turn would attract people from their cars thereby reducing traffic levels and therefore easing any problems associated with the introduction of the priority measures in the first place.

  4.22  These four schemes are currently undergoing a comprehensive evaluation using transport modelling and a multi-criteria assessment process. For two of the schemes (Uxbridge Road and Waterfront) the preliminary demand work suggested that both tram and bus based systems should be evaluated. For the other two (Barking and Romford) the preliminary work showed lower demand levels so only bus based schemes are being considered. In all cases the options are compared to a base case of the "best bus" alternative, with high but realistic on-street priority.

  4.23  As well as indicating the financial and normal cost-benefit the multi-criteria evaluation will also assess the projects on a wider basis in line with the Government's White Paper, under the five headings: integration, safety, economy, environment and accessibility.

  4.24  The evaluation of the four schemes will be completed by the end of the year when London Transport will decide the priorities for taking forward. Assuming a positive result for either a tram or bus-based option from the evaluation and agreement with the appropriate local authorities, the next stage will involve public consultation and the seeking of initial expressions of interest from the private sector. It is intended that the result of this second stage will be completed in spring 2000 in time for a recommendation to be made to London's new Mayor towards implementation.

4.25  Central Area Partnership—Cross River Transit

  The fifth area of London Transport's Light Rapid Transit work concerns the proposal for a new transit link across the heart of the capital. The Cross River Partnership is a consortium of businesses and public authorities which has come together to address, inter alia, issues relating to transport and planning matters adjacent to the river in central London.

  4.26  The scheme comprises a central core running from Euston to Waterloo, using existing roads and crossing the Thames on Waterloo Bridge with branches to Camden and Kings Cross to the north and Peckham and Stockwell to the south, as shown on the plan. A mixture of reserved transit lanes, traffic management and signal priority seeks to ensure a high quality service with minimum disruption from other traffic. Journey times from Euston to Waterloo are expected to be similar to that for the Northern line offering a degree of congestion relief on the Underground. Traffic management and reallocation of space from other traffic will allow for landscaping and increase in pedestrian space, particularly in areas such as Aldwych.

  4.27  Cross River Transit was conceived as a way of improving links across the river, helping to improve the economic performance of the south Bank and relieving the pressure on areas such as Covent Garden. The scheme also aims to improve access from some densely populated inner suburbs, such as Peckham to the buoyant job market in the central area. At the same time it will improve access to a number of main line and Underground stations. Transit is seen as an attractive alternative to car use and will allow the reallocation of space from private cars to public transport and pedestrians. There is significant pressure on road space in the central area, both from existing traffic and from the desire of the authorities to improve the environment and ambience such as in the World Squares initiative. Transit, and similar levels of priority to public transport on other corridors, is seen as potentially an important ingredient in the developing strategy for central London.

  4.28  The Cross River Transit project is at the same stage of development as the four schemes in outer London, with a full evaluation in hand. Both bus-based and trams are being looked at. As with the other schemes, assuming a favourable outcome from the evaluation and agreement with the appropriate local authorities the next stage will involve public consultation and the seeking of initial expressions of interest from the private sector. This second stage will be completed in spring 2000, in time for a recommendation to be made to the Mayor.


  5.1  The work by London Transport on the development of Light Rapid Transit systems in London raises a number of issues on their planning, funding and implementation. Those discussed here are: the role of Light Rapid Transit in the light of current and emerging transport policies; issues relating to funding and the involvement of the private sector and; issues relating to the legislative framework.


  The Government's White Paper on Transport firmly sets the agenda to discourage the need to travel and encourage use of the most environmentally friendly modes, particularly in the urban areas where congestion and pollution from vehicles is affecting the quality of life. In cities such as London, where there is already a dense public transport network, major changes to the transport network will be uncommon and because of the need to respect the existing urban fabric, in most cases also very costly to construct. New Underground or rail projects require massive flows of people to utilise their capacity and unless there is very heavy overcrowding of the existing network to relieve, or there are substantial changes in land use or developments to generate new demands, they are very difficult to justify. Whilst there are examples of new heavy rail construction in London such as the Heathrow Express, Jubilee line extension and Channel Tunnel Rail Link, of these only the Jubilee line will provide an attractive alternative to the car for a range of local journeys in London. For such journeys, London's buses play a vital role in the network and the continuing programme of changes and improvements to services ensures these keep in tune with passenger demands.

  5.3  However, whilst there are obvious differences in performance and carrying capacity of buses and trains there are also significant differences in the way the two modes are perceived in such terms as quality, image and attractiveness. This perception has an adverse effect on attempts to encourage use of the bus as an alternative to the car. Continuing developments in bus vehicles and stops will help to erode this quality gap and improve the perception of buses. However a key difference tends to be the level of on-street priority given to buses compared to trams. So far there is little hard evidence that buses can have a significant impact on car use in the way that conventional rail and tram systems appear to, but whether this is based on real differences in performance or image is not clear. Continuing research is therefore essential to try to understand why this is so and to understand if the light rapid transit systems such as guided buses are perceived and used in a different way to the conventional bus.

  Similarly the impact of providing very high level of on-street priority to conventional buses needs to be better understood.

  5.4  Based on the outline appraisal of a wide range of schemes as outlined above, and given the current state of knowledge, London Transport does not see the widespread introduction of Light Rapid Transit systems in London. Understanding the impact of the Croydon Tramlink, the Millennium Transit and, assuming their introduction, the impact of one or more new bus or rail based transit systems from the current programme will be essential before further schemes are progressed. This impact assessment needs to identify how well schemes have met their transport and wider objectives, particularly their impact on travel patterns and car use.

  5.5  Funding and the Involement of the Private Sector—Funding, for the improvement and development of those parts of the network under London Transport's control, originates from three main sources; fares, Government grant and private sector investment. In all new schemes there is a requirement to seek the involvement of the private sector in the design, construction and operational stages and London Transport intends to do this for any new Light Rapid Transit systems. As a result of the relatively high fares in London, unlike most other cities of the world, many bus services and the Underground generate an operating surplus over day-to-day operating costs. The two light rail systems under construction—Croydon Tramlink and the DLR Lewisham extension are both anticipated to generate significant operating surpluses which will provide revenue streams to service the private sector's capital investment requirements. However in neither case is this sufficient to cover the full costs of the schemes and Government grant has been necessary to close the funding gap.

  5.6  To invest in such systems the private sector must take a view of the risks of the project and balance these against the potential future returns. The risks associated with Light Rapid Transit and other similar public transport projects are not insignificant. First there is the risk associated with the planning and approval stages. As discussed in the next section the uncertainties associated with the Transport & Works Act Order process are significant. Secondly there is the risk associated with the revenue income. In a unregulated market as found outside London the risks are those of uncertainty and aggressive competition, particularly from privately operated bus companies. In London where fares and services are regulated, fares income is largely dictated by London wide agreements giving little opportunity for flexibility by the individual operator but providing protection from competition. Finally there are risks associated with construction, which are significant for any Light Rapid Transit involving street running and requiring the diversion of utility services from beneath the road. In this respect the Statutory Utility companies are in a unique position in being able to largely determine the scope, timing and cost of relocation. As a result no private company involved in the recent UK light rail schemes has been prepared to take on this risk.

  5.7  In Croydon, Tramtrack Croydon Limited's (TCL) financing plan is a highly complex package, providing roughly half the necessary project finance. It uses a mixture of funding sources to provide the minimum overall cost of financing, combining finance leases with senior, mezzanine and shareholder debt and equity. There are complex inter-creditor issues involving a large number of parties, creating 76 direct agreements within the TCL family.

  5.8  Traditionally, few UK companies have been involved in both the construction and operation of public transport systems. This has created a steep learning curve for consortia involved in turnkey projects. Often the operator, who will be responsible for the system and its success for many years after construction has been completed, has had sufficient influence over the design and specification of equipment. For the next generation of LRT schemes London Transport is likely to seek expressions of interest from operating companies in the first instance.

5.10  The Legislation Process

  Until 1992 Light Rapid Transit schemes in the UK generally required the authority of an Act of Parliament. This is contrast to, say, highway schemes which require conventional planning permission and associated orders for the compulsory purchase of land. Furthermore, unlike conventional bus services all rail and Light Rapid Transit systems (including Guided busways) have to meet the requirements of Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate (HMRI).

  5.11  For the four stages of the Docklands Light Railway and for Croydon Tramlink, London Transport promoted private Bills. Although all these projects were of broadly similar nature and complexity the time taken for the Bill to be enacted varied considerably as shown in the table below. This created uncertainty over the timing of the project and meant that it was difficult to proceed with, for example, the tendering process, until the parliamentary process was nearing completion.

Bill Deposited
Royal Assent

DLR Initial Railway
November 1982
April 1984
17 months
DLR City Extension
November 1985
December 1986
13 months
DLR Beckton Extension
November 1986
July 1989
32 months
DLR Lewisham Extension
November 1990
May 1993
30 months
Croydon Tramlink
November 1991
July 1994
32 months

  5.12  From 1984 onwards there was a sharp increase in the amount of parliamentary business taken up by contentious private railway Bills generated by, amongst others, London Transport. The system began to attract criticism from both houses of Parliament, partly due to the increased time members of both Houses were required to spend on Select Committees examining Bills and petitions deposited against them and also the amount of parliamentary time being taken up by debates on the floor of both Houses. Accordingly, the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure was established by Parliament in 1987 to look into the private bill procedure.

  5.13  The Committee concluded that private bills were no longer the appropriate mechanism for authorising proposals that essentially involve works and the compulsory purchase of land and rights. The Committee recommended that a system be established outside Parliament requiring public local inquiries to be held with power being conferred upon a Minister to make an Order which would broadly have the same effect as an Act of Parliament.

  5.14  Accordingly the legislative process for all such projects was changed with the enactment of the Transport and Works Act 1992 ("the 1992 Act"). The system of promoting rail schemes by private Bill was replaced by a system of Ministerial Orders, made following the successful completion by an applicant of a number of procedural steps which may include the holding of a public local inquiry into the application. The granting of planning permission being dealt with as part of the overall process leading to the making of an Order.

  5.15  It had been hoped that the new procedure would shorten the process and reduce uncertainty. Unfortunately it is not clear that this has been the case. Although London Transport has yet to promote a Light Rapid Transit scheme under the new process, the experience of promoting the proposed extension of the East London line to Dalston (in some ways a simpler project than the light rail projects) and in dealing with applications promoted by others suggests that the new procedure has a number of structural weaknesses. These are set out in Annex 2. It is submitted that a review of the current legislative framework should be undertaken to identify those aspects of the new procedure which are perceived to add unnecessary delay and uncertainty to the process but which could be modified without reducing the level of public scrutiny of a promoter's scheme.

  5.16  The table below identifies the time-scale for the promotion of the London Underground (East London Line Extension) Order 1997.

ProjectBill Deposited OrderPeriod

East London Line ExtensionNovember 1993 February 199738 months

October 1999

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