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

Memorandum by North Western England Rail Passenger Committee (PRF 23)


  In respect of the above investigation by the Transport Sub Committee of the Transport Local Government and the Regions Committee, please find below some comments from the RPC North Western England which are complementary to the submission you will receive from the Rail Passengers Council.

  These comments are relevant particularly to the suggestion made to you, by the Rail Passengers Council, that the SRA should seek consensus on any proposed change to an existing franchise before asking for bids.

  There is no such consensus on the proposed Trans Pennine Express/Northern franchise split.

  In summary our view is that the creation of TPE will take away certain benefits of economies of scale and lead to additional resource costs, particularly in terms of trains and train crews, for both TPE and Northern Trains as separate franchises. In addition there will also be interface difficulties of timetabling, connections and fares on common lines of route eg Manchester—Barrow/Windermere.

  However, the recent draft franchising statement creates additional cause for concern; principally, if TPE does go ahead, what happens to the rest of the North? We have already stated (in our letter of 24 July 2001 to the Right Hon. Stephen Byers—copy enclosed) that retaining the residue of First North Western and Arriva (Northern) as separate franchises, rather than creating Northern as an amalgam of the two, would be completely unacceptable to this Committee.

  It would be totally at odds with the stated aim of franchise replacement ie to reduce fragmentation and create fewer franchises. Given these circumstances it would be better not to award TPE at all, and retain the existing franchise structure as far as possible. The additional resource and administrative costs of creating TPE as a separate franchise could then be channelled into investment that would directly benefit passengers.

  I hope these points are helpful to you in your deliberations.

John Moorhouse


September 2001

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