Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 680 - 699)



Miss McIntosh

  680. Could you just respond to the question? I think it was GNER poaching drivers who had actually been trained by Arriva but is your ten-year plan going to take into consideration that it takes a year to train drivers and that there is not necessarily the market out there for all the drivers that are required?
  (Mr Jenner) Very much so. It is perfectly natural for drivers to prefer driving big red shiny trains or big blue shiny trains. That means that certain train operating companies have to serve in effect as a driver training academy. We recognise that and we are going to make sure those companies themselves recognise that. There has to be a supply of drivers going through the system.

Mr O'Brien

  681. How reliable will the services be in the future, having regard to what we have suffered in the past with Arriva?
  (Mr Jenner) The aim of the order is very much to restore all the services which have now been taken out. So that there is absolute certainty that those services will run.

  682. Have you had assurances on that?
  (Mr Jenner) That is the purpose of the order.


  683. May we be quite sure we are talking about the same thing? Are you saying that a substitute service which consists of a bus service is a robust service and you are just making sure that will be available? Or are you saying that it is your intention to make sure there is a train service? Forgive me, but it is important we know what we are talking about?
  (Mr Jenner) What we are trying to do is to ensure that for the vast majority of passengers there is a train service.

  Chairman: The "vast majority", not for everybody.

Miss McIntosh

  684. Not those between Thirsk and Newcastle.
  (Mr Jenner) We have to recognise that Arriva are 100 drivers short of establishment. That means that if no action is taken, trains are cancelled on a completely random basis. Every passenger then is uncertain as to whether any particular service is going to run. What we have tried to do with Arriva is to ensure that most of the services are provided by trains and they are guaranteed to run because the number of trains run equals the number of drivers they have already at the moment. Secondly, for the services which cannot be covered by trains, there are buses. Passengers do at least know that a robust service is being provided in one form or another.
  (Mr Grant) At the end of the day our ultimate aim is to make sure Arriva have enough drivers to provide the full rail service.


  685. In other words you would like a rail service to be a rail service not a bus service.
  (Mr Grant) Absolutely.
  (Mr Jenner) Absolutely.

Mr Stevenson

  686. Back to the strategic plan. Is it true that when the plan is published it will be predicated on the existing resources which have been announced in the ten-year plan, that is £30 billion available to the SRA?
  (Mr Jenner) We have had a number of discussions with the Department and the Treasury . We have looked at the resources. Those discussions are still ongoing, but yes, ultimately we shall be looking at the £30 billion of public money plus the £34 billion private money.

  687. Sir Alastair Morton has described that situation as being far too restrictive for the ten-year plan objective to be delivered. He has described the present funding proposals as wrongly structured and inadequate. Do you agree with that?
  (Mr Grant) What we have been asked to do is to produce a strategic plan to address 50 per cent growth in passengers, 80 per cent growth in freight and overcrowding within the resources available to us.

  688. I understand that.
  (Mr Grant) The plan will provide a number of options, a range, and one of those ranges will say that we can achieve the ten-year plan.

  689. I presume Sir Alastair has been heavily involved in the production of the strategic plan.
  (Mr Grant) No, Sir Alastair has not been involved at all in the strategic plan.

  690. Not at all? Yet he has said that the strategic plan will not meet the country's needs as it will be restricted in the way I described to you. What I am trying to get at is whether you agreed with that analysis, whether Sir Alastair has been involved or not.
  (Mr Grant) I said that under certain scenarios and a number of major assumptions we can achieve the ten-year plan.

  691. You say you are in discussion with the Treasury on the resource issue. What is the purpose of those discussions? Is it to relieve any possible restriction due to the £30 billion or is it to work within that?
  (Mr Grant) It is to make the case for how we can achieve the ten-year plan, to make sure the phasing of the funding is right, to decide how we are going to treat the additional £1.5 billion allocated to Railtrack. We are looking at the funding, we are looking at the phasing of the funding and we are also looking at the outputs.

  692. Does your discussion with the Treasury in any way, shape or form involve the possibility of more resources being argued for over the ten-year period?
  (Mr Grant) The Department and the SRA will want to put forward cases within the next spending round for why we should have more money for rail.

  693. How much more would that money be? Can you quantify it?
  (Mr Grant) I cannot quantify it.

  694. You cannot quantify it. Three billion, five billion, ten billion.
  (Mr Grant) Thirty billion has been allocated in the ten-year plan.

  695. But you are looking for more.
  (Mr Grant) No. We shall want to be in a position as franchising and projects go forward to be making a case for rail, when money becomes available, so that we can use it to improve the rail services.

  696. I want to be clear on this. Forgive me for pressing you. You know the purpose of my question and I am seeking to identify if possible whether the SRA in your discussions with the Treasury is looking for more money than that already allocated under the ten-year plan.
  (Mr Grant) We produced the strategic plan on the basis of the money allocated. We will always be making a case to try to get more money for railways.

  697. I still do not know whether that is a yes or a no. How will infrastructure enhancement projects be taken forward whilst Railtrack remains in administration, which could be three months, six months, it could be longer.
  (Mr Grant) I can give you an example which is on the East Coast Main Line. Post 1 April, when Railtrack decided they would no longer take forward enhancements, we have an agreement with Railtrack to take forward the East Coast Main Line which we are paying for directly. That continues in administration through Railtrack with the administrator.

  698. Which SRA is paying for directly.
  (Mr Grant) SRA is paying.

  699. In total?
  (Mr Grant) In total.

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