Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240
MONDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2000
240. On a day-to-day basis there needs to be
some incentive built in or some penalty to make sure that this
does not happen.
(Mr Grant) There is what we call a shortfall incentive
payment, whereby if the train operating company runs short trains
they are penalised. That is in existence at the moment.
241. The final point I want to make is about
information. If I read it correctly, Figure 24 said that one in
five passengers said they were dissatisfied with the information
they got. In a delay situation that doubles to roundabout 40 per
cent. 8.0 of Figure 11 says that one of the aims is to improve
information given to passengers on delays. Could you tell us a
little bit about how that will happen, when it will happen and
is it part of Strategic Rail Authority's power to help to deliver?
(Mr Grant) Going forward it is an absolutely crucial
part of franchise replacement and Mr Jenner will give you a few
examples. We all recognise that when trains are late and passengers
are not given accurate information there is nothing more infuriating,
it is bad enough being late, but then not being told what is going
on is much more difficult. We are looking to improve across the
piece information to passengers and we have included a number
of clauses in the new franchise agreements to address that point.
(Mr Jenner) What passengers are interested in is the
provision of realtime running information, exactly where their
train is. They want to know that before they leave home or on
their way to the station so they can plan accordingly, rather
than get to the station and find the train is 60 minutes late
and then wonder what to do. Some train operating companies are
already introducing realtime information websites, where you can
access the information on the web before you leave home and are
able to better plan your journey. We are encouraging that.
Mr Campbell: Thank you.
242. Thank you. If they answered their telephone
sometimes it would be a good thing. On the question of no overcrowding
on the long distance railways, why is that?
(Mr Grant) Going forward or historically?
(Mr Grant) I think going forward we will, as I say,
work more closely with the train operating companies. Perhaps
there has not been a need so far. Certainly on the commuter routes
it is standing room. Going forward we are working very closely
with train operating companies to monitor it.
244. You mentioned earlier the expectation of
a 50 per cent increase in volume, quite a large proportion of
these are long distance. There is not a very large increase in
the volume of capacity on those tracks so surely you will have
foreseen that there will be, therefore, overcrowding on some of
those popular lines. Is that not obvious?
(Mr Grant) I do not think when privatisation took
place that people were forecasting the growth that has actually
245. Let me move on to one other point. We talked
about reservations and at the moment, let me tell you, on the
East Coast Main Line you cannot reserve a week ahead. Point number
two, I am told by one of my colleagues here that at Christmas
only reservations will be able to travel on the East Coast Main
Line, that is the proposal, and anybody not booking and just turning
up will not be allowed to travel. Do you approve of this? Do you
have any control over all this? Is it how it is supposed to work?
(Mr Grant) It is clearly not how it is supposed to
work. I think the situation on the East Coast Main Line is very
difficult in the light of the current speed restrictions. I personally
do not have an answer to increasing the capacity. It is a situation
that Railtrack find themselves in and obviously the knock-on consequences
are those of GNER. I do not know that there is any easy answer
in light of the speed restrictions and, therefore, the reduced
capacity on the line.
Chairman: I see. Do you have something to add,
Mr Steinberg: I do not think the statement that
Mr Grant made was accurate. Even before the problems of Hatfield
the fact is that on many, many occasions on trains on the East
Coast Main Line people stood from King's Cross to Durham. To say
that it is just a commuter problem and not an Inter City problem
is not accurate at all.
Chairman: Our purpose is not to sit here and
embarrass you with things you do not know, our purpose is to get
information. Would you like to give us a note on both the historical
position of overcrowding and overcrowding planning, if there is
such a thing, and your future proposals for them. It only remains
for me to thank you for coming and giving evidence, I know it
is never easy, and to wish you a happy and speedy journey home.