Memorandum by South West Transport Network
The Railway Development Society Severnside
and South West branches would like to make the following comments
to the committee about renewal, maintenance and the development
of the national rail network.
We are very concerned about the lack of maintenance
in day to day operations of Railtrack Great Western Zone Stations
since the regeneration of these stations were carried out. It
would appear to both the Railway Development Society and Transport
2000 that there needs to be a tightening of the financial conditions
to protect investment of taxpayers money invested in station regeneration
programmes and a duty placed on leasees to clean and maintain
station buildings. For example repairs are needed on stations
such as Clifton Down and Montpelier on the Severn Beach Line which
are covered in graffiti and broken glass in the waiting shelter
making these stations unsafe at night. Other stations in Great
Western Zone Railtrack in poor condition leased to Wales and the
West Passenger Trains at Bruton covered in graffiti on the footbridge
with details of illegal drugs, Nailsea and Backwell with graffiti
covered waiting shelters and Worle Parkway with broken glass shelters.
The Plymouth area stations are also in a poor state of repairs.
There does not appear to be an effective station maintenance regulator
function in provision in terms of finance and lease enforcement
to protect taxpayers investment through access charges.
With regards to refranchising there still appears
to be the lack of a strategy with the shadow Strategic Rail authority
for the franchise area based in the eight English Regional Transport
Strategies. For instance in the South West of England if a new
rail franchise area is to be developed based on the local services
around Bristol, including the Bristol Temple Meads Severn Beach
Line via Clifton Down and Avonmouth to link this service to a
new passenger service between Avonmouth and Yate via Filton Junction
and Bristol Temple Meads to Portishead and Wapping Wharf, then
maintenance faculties will be required at Bristol, Bath Road.
At present Railtrack appears to be removing the network from this
depot without any closure order from the Secretary of State for
Transport despite Bristol City Council and the three other unitary
authorities who appealed the previous regulator John Swift's decision
to close Bath Road Depot. This decision took no account of the
needs of an expanding South West Railway or a new light rail system
for Bristol being promoted by Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire
Council using the Railtrack route between Bristol Temple Meads,
Lawrence Hill, Stapleton Road, Filton Abbey Wood and Bradley Stoke.
There is a need for the Government to fully
address a properly funded rail network of regional and local train
networks under British Rail operations. It cost £84 million
a year to operate Wales and the West Passengers Trains area and
maintain stations and infrastructure. Under Prism Rail this has
been reduced to 38 million in the final year of the franchise
with the resulting cut backs in passenger services between Bristol
Temple Meads, Weston Super Mare and Taunton, Bristol Temple Meads,
Bath Spa, Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Warminster and
Frome and local services between Gloucester, Cheltenham and Worcester
Shrub Hill at peak times. With subsidy cuts in the PSR the station
cleaning and maintenance has been cut back to essential maintenance
only. Wales and the West Passenger Trains are trading at a ten
million loss at present. The Regional Transport strategy needs
addressing. A ten year regional expenditure plan on the Regional
Rail network branch line investment such as Exeter to Barnstaple
with extensions to Okehampton and Bideford leading to expansion.
The Taunton to Minehead route with the train taking traffic away
from the A39 to A358 Taunton to Minehead road especially in summer
with the holiday camp. Again there needs to be funding plans for
the upgrade of the London Paddington, Bath Spa, Bristol Temple
Meads, Exeter St Davids, Plymouth, Penzance main line with electrification
scheme and 140 mph trains. Similarly the London Waterloo, Salisbury,
Yeovil Junction, Exeter Central route needs upgrading and reinvestment
via Okehampton, Tavistock to Plymouth as part of the Salisbury
Exeter Lineside consortium scheme.
Railtrack needs to invest in station facilities
and a bus rail interchange, improved walking, cycling and park
and ride stations such as Worle Parkway at Weston Super Mare.
The government will need to make major investment in both the
heavy and light rail network via the strategic rail authority
plus schemes like ultra light rail schemes between Wapping Wharf
and Ashton Gate Park and Ride. The rail freight network needs
upgrading to WW Gauge and to be linked to ports such as Bristol
Portbury Dock, Portland Harbour etc. Access charges need to be
reviewed for rail freight in view of the government plans to bring
the 44 ton lorries on trunk roads.