Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60
MONDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2000
60. You quoted the Germans, and I know there
are doubts in Germany about the quality of the system, which you
seemingly do not share, but the fact is they have an integrated
structure, do they not? They are about to go down the route of
copying our fragmentation but at the moment they are, you say,
better and they do not share our structural break up.
(Mr Grant) I was not commenting on the structure,
I was commenting on the wheel/rail interface.
61. Incentives, as the Chairman pointed out,
do not seem to make much difference, they would sooner pay fines
than worry about the small incentive they get to improve their
service. How far would the proposal of a meaningful law of corporate
manslaughter focus attention, do you think? Do you think it would
be good for managerial single-mindedness?
(Mr Grant) It would certainly focus the attention
of people who are making the judgments about rails.
62. More than they are focused at the moment?
At the moment they must be at the highest they have ever been.
(Mr Grant) I find that quite a difficult question
to answer myself, other than from a personal point of view. I
have no experience.
63. Put it another way, since at the moment
they are under enormous pressure, do you think they might have
addressed these issues earlier had there been such a law that
was meaningful in the way it would be applied?
(Mr Grant) I do not know if they would have applied
them earlier but, again, from a personal point of view it certainly
would focus your mind if you are responsible for checking those
64. We are hearing about the problem of passing
red lights and so on, I do not know whether that is within your
area or not, but I seem to recollect just after privatisation
the operating companies sacked a very large number of drivers.
Does this mean that they are now having to operate with less experienced
drivers, some of whom would not be as well acquainted with the
hazards of the system?
(Mr Grant) I think by the fact that there are a lot
more trains running today, there are a lot more drivers obviously
who are going to be recently trained.
65. Pity that they sacked them in the first
(Mr Grant) But that training programme is one approved
by the safety authorities, so one has to believe that it is adequate
and, therefore, they are safe to drive trains.
66. We all know when we learn to drive that
we pass our test at a certain stage but it is a different matter
from being absolutely, instinctively responsible. One's reactions
are not as finely tuned when you are starting out.
(Mr Grant) I think that could work both ways. You
can be more alert when you start and less alert later.
67. Switching quickly for a second. In Transport
2010, looking at the next ten years, we are told that there is
to be an increase in public spending, an increase of £26
billion of spend in rail over that time by the public, and there
is to be a total spending of £34 billion by the operators,
by the industry, in private investment. As part of Transport 2010
the increase, this is £26 billion over and above the money
that was already allotted for public contribution, how much extra
have the companies put into 2010?
(Mr Grant) I will answer the question generally and
Mr McGann will give you more detail. Clearly the position on the
ten year plan is that some £60 billion is scheduled for railways,
of which 49 is in fact investment and 11 is public resource.
68. Eleven is?
(Mr Grant) Public resource spend.
69. A £26 billion increase in public spending
on the railway. How do you get that down to 11?
(Mr Grant) On the public investment side there is
a figure of 14.7 - this is in table two of the ten year planpublic
investment of 14.7 on railways, private investment of 34.3, totalling
49, and public resource spend of 11.3, totalling 60.4.
Mr Williams: Thank you.
70. Mr Grant, I would like to go back to compensation
for a minute, please. I think I was right in hearing you say that
under the existing franchises compensation is paid if a train
is an hour or more late. Under the next wave of franchising you
expect some changes in the tightening up of the timescale, and
you gave an example of Chiltern Railways where 30 minutes is suggested.
Firstly, is 30 minutes even a fairly lax benchmark?
(Mr Grant) I suppose, first of all, it depends on
the length of the journey.
71. Does it?
(Mr Grant) If I was expecting a journey of 15 minutes
and it took me 45 I would feel much more aggrieved than if I had
a journey of ten hours and I arrived in ten and a half hours.
72. Really! Do you use the train?
(Mr Grant) I travel on Connex.
73. Does it not irritate you if you are half
an hour late or an hour late at the start of your journey, regardless
of whether it is a short, medium or long journey?
(Mr Grant) Starting the journey or the total journey
74. Starting it. If you start it late you are
irritated, and if you then catch-up time and get to your destination
on time you will be cheered up by the end of the journey. If you
start late and then arrive at the other end late, regardless of
how long the journey is, you will be fairly irritated, will you
(Mr Grant) Disappointed and probably irritated as
well. I do think that the 30 minutes figure is one that is deliverable.
If we go for shorter times then it would be much more difficult
to administer. There has to be some leeway in that system. I think
moving from an hour to 30 minutes is a step in the right direction.
75. In a way that is the point, you said that
30 minutes is probably deliverable, surely if you made it tighter,
with penalties for the company if they did not deliver, that would
concentrate their mind more to enhance and improve their service,
would it not?
(Mr Grant) We are mixing up two areas here, compensation
for the passenger is one area but the incentive payments for the
train operating company is measured on a five minute's scale for
the non-Intercity and ten minutes for the Intercity.
76. I am thinking more of the individual passenger
who directly suffers from the delays. I was just suggesting thatwhich
I do not think you are going to agree tothat an hour is
very lax and half an hour is not that much of a better deal.
(Mr Grant) I suppose the question is, where do you
stop? Is it two minutes, is it ten minutes, is it 30 minutes?
It has been an hour, it has been an hour for a number of years.
77. That does not mean to say that it was right.
(Mr Grant) I did not say it was right. At the same
time going to 30 minutes is a step in the right direction. We
felt that was the appropriate timescale to put compensation to.
78. How is the compensation paid? Is it always
financial compensation or can it be an extension of a season ticket
or a free journey?
(Mr Grant) As a general rule it depends whether the
train operating company have what we call voided a date and, therefore,
the season ticket holder will get an extra day. In individual
cases it can be vouchers and in future it will be cash or an alternative
of cash or a voucher.
79. Do you mean a voucher that has the same
journey again free of charge?
(Mr Jenner) It can be put to future travel on that