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

Examination of Witness (Questions 320 - 325)



  320. I must say that is the most breathtaking thing I have heard this afternoon. Really the one thing which would transform the attitude of the passenger towards the railway system would be the arrival of new, modern, safe rolling stock that they could see every day so they were not crushed onto enormously old and totally unacceptable trains. I am absolutely astounded that you are telling me that it was the industry itself which ran away from it, not least because one of the arguments has been that even when the companies ordered new rolling stock, even when the manufacturers had provided new rolling stock, it was the behaviour of the ROSCOs and the people in between which was holding up the delivery because of the acceptance procedures. If you are telling me that it is actually the people who need the rolling stock who are also a barrier, that is really pretty horrifying.
  (Mr Winsor) It was remarkable that they did not take what they could have had for free. It is very important to stress two additional things. One was that when those contracts between Virgin and Railtrack were being approved by my predecessors as Regulator, the question was put to Railtrack: is there any reason why, if another applicant, train operator or other person, wanted a contract in these terms, you could not give it to them? The answer came back no. So Railtrack has already accepted that those rules can apply industry-wide. The second thing I must say though is that the reasons for the delays in approval of new rolling stock are not only Railtrack.

  321. No, I was not suggesting they were.
  (Mr Winsor) I said that I believe the principal cause is information but it is not the only one. Of course Railtrack in looking at an application of this kind must not pass as safe something which is not safe. I do not think anybody seriously disputes that. The application which is made must be an application which deserves to be approved. If the applicant has made a dog's breakfast of the application, if he has not looked at the right criteria or filled in the forms correctly, or if the train truly does not deserve to be passed, then of course Railtrack is perfectly entitled to and must refuse.

Miss McIntosh

  322. I just wondered where Mr Winsor was in 1996.
  (Mr Winsor) I was a partner in a law firm in the City of London.

  323. You were not involved in the Rail Regulator's office in any way.
  (Mr Winsor) No, I was not working for the Rail Regulator's office. I was advising clients as a private practice lawyer.

  324. I think you accept that the experience of Railtrack and the ROSCOs operating on the East Coast line is very different to that endured by colleagues on the West Coast line?
  (Mr Winsor) The operations are different. GNER had the benefit of a far better network than Virgin does because the West Coast Main Line has been left to rot and ruin for 30 years. They did have a wee bit of an advantage; they also had better rolling stock.

  Miss McIntosh: I always take the opportunity to remind our Chairman that the West Coast route is a trans-European network priority route.


  325. I always find that a great comfort.
  (Mr Winsor) As you stand at the station in Watford.

  Chairman: I have given instructions that if I disappear entirely Watford Junction should be searched very carefully. I think, Mr Winsor, you have been really very informative for somebody who did not intend to tell us anything. You will understand that because of the timing of the various things we have been discussing this afternoon, we shall want to talk to you again. It is very helpful that you have been able to answer some of the other problems which have been discussed in some detail, but we are very grateful to you. We shall undoubtedly want to return, once you have made public various of your decisions, to why and how and when and what you expect of those decisions. In the meantime may I just thank you for coming and say how appreciative we are.

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