Examination of Witness (Questions 40-59)|
WEDNESDAY 23 JANUARY 2002
40. Too small?
(Mr Rees) Yes. We are thinking of a very long period
41. 2010 is not exactly the end of the world,
is it? I am hoping to hang on until 2010.
(Mr Rees) I am as well and I am sure I will travel
on the West Coast Main Line.
42. You may be hoping for too much there, Mr
(Mr Rees) Are these figures for the UK or for the
Chairman: These are for the United Kingdom.
For the European Train Control System the cost of installation
is estimated £20 million per life saved. The figures that
they gave on the actual implementation of the policy for the European
Rail Traffic Management System is £2 billion; interoperability,
£1.5 billion; noise reduction, £3 billion; environmental
requirements, £1 billion.
43. Would you agree with those figures? Do they
sound right to you?
(Mr Rees) I must admit, I am not aware of these figures,
but I would not like to say I think they are right. I do not know
what the environmental requirements are for the railways that
are being spoken of and neither the noise requirement. ERTMS is
only required to be installed on new or rebuilt lines. There are
only two in the United Kingdom, which are the High Speed Link
to the Channel Tunnel and the West Coast Main Line. If the UK
authorities wished to install ERTMS on a wider basis, this is
of course up to the UK authorities, but there is no requirement
in Community law to do this. Clearly I would have thought this
is wishful thinking by a Railway Forum, which I suppose is a supporter
of the railway.
44. Could I put it a slightly different way?
How much do you consider it would cost this country to implement
the measures for railways included in the White Paper by 2010?
(Mr Rees) The measures for the railways consist essentially
of the completion of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, the West Coast
modernisation, and a number of other infrastructure projects,
the cost of which I am not sure but they are known to the Department
of Transport and the UK Government.
45. It depends who did the original costing,
(Mr Rees) I am not in a position to comment on that.
Civil engineering projects often suffer from a slight degree of
economy when it comes to the initial costs, but I think on the
sort of figures that you are talking about there, if I would be
allowed to say so, the assumption I guess behind the Forum is
that the UK will make a decision. It is not required by Community
law to go further than required by Community law. If this is the
case, those might well be the costs, though I am not in a position
to comment on them.
46. How much European Community assistance would
come through to implement the measures?
(Mr Rees) To implement the measures proposed by the
(Mr Rees) I could not say. In terms of implementing
the measures that are shown for trans-European networks, which
are part of the Community's proposals, clearly there is a possibility
of assistance being drawn down. I happen to remember that the
Community has already provided 180 million for the high speed
48. I am afraid, that does not mean anything
to me, Mr Rees. What is that in money?
(Mr Rees) Quite a lot. It means about £100 million
and quite a lot of pounds also for the West Coast Main Line, though
I am afraid I cannot remember how much. There will obviously be
more money coming for the West Coast Main Line from the trans-European
network proposals, and other projects in the UK as well, but not
for the projects that were mentioned there for noise abatement
or for the environment; these are not part of Community law.
49. So there is no money for these measures?
(Mr Rees) Because we do not require the UK to do that.
50. There is no money for the measures in the
(Mr Rees) Sorry; these measure are not in the White
Paper. There is the possibility, and the White Paper talks about
further action to improving the environmental characteristics
of the railways.
51. But it does not mean it?
(Mr Rees) It does mean it but we have to develop these
project first and subject them to the usual cost benefit analysis.
52. Could I turn your attention to pages 112
and 113 where you list the projects? Are they costed projects?
(Mr Rees) Yes, they are. The projects that you see
here and, the last column on the right gives the remaining investment
requirements for these projects to complete them, are as supplied
by the national authorities.
53. So who is funding them? Is that the national
(Mr Rees) These are the national governments funding
the projects in the usual way they are funded by the national
authorities concerned, which is basically, as far as transport
infrastructure is concerned, through the public purse.
54. There are no projects on that from the United
(Mr Rees) No. These are the new projects that we are
proposing in the modification to the trans-European networks proposal
of 1996. These are the second round of Essen. It may be that I
should say what that is. There was an agreement in Essen in the
mid-Nineties to identify 14 priority projects. Some of these are
now completed and we are proposing to replace them, the ones that
are completed, with projects that were also cited in Essen but
were not within the list of 14. There is one new one here, if
I may, the satellite navigation system, which I am sure you have
heard about, called Galileo.
55. On reading the White Paper, it seems to
be cantilevered fairly severely towards rail at the cost of road
and air. Just how important is aviation to the European Union?
(Mr Rees) Aviation in the Community has shown the
fastest rate of growth of any of the modes of transport. We have
a forecast, but remember the very unfortunate timing of the White
Paper, that it was issued the day before the tragic events in
New York, and so in terms of aviation, the figures for aviation
have to be looked at with even more concern than normal. Anyway,
I make that proviso. We were forecasting a growth of aviation
in the Community of around 90 per cent by 2010. In relation to
the overall thrust of the paper, obviously we were looking to
make a better use of the environmentally-friendly modes of transport:
railways, coastal shipping, inland waterways. With air transport,
we had a specific problem. The problem was that we obviously do
not want to be accused of being kill-joys in Brussels who want
to stop people going on their summer holidays to Majorca or the
Costa Brava. So what we were looking at in terms of civil aviation
is to make the best use of the available air space in the Community.
Galileo is one technical means to try to make better use of the
air space and to allow more flights into air space. We were also
looking at trying to reduce some of the shorter distance trips
in the Community by better linking the high speed rail network,
which is now developing, into airports, to take out a certain
number of short distance air services and replace them with high-speed
trains. Already, if you take an Air France ticket from Brussels
to somewhere, you will not fly; you will go by train from Brussels
to Paris: Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa are already doing the same
thing in Germany, and there are examples like this that are possible.
Our view is that air transport is very important. Indeed, it is
absolutely essential for many communities, but where there is
the opportunity now developing to use high speed rail services
to replace short distance air services, we think this is sensible,
both in terms of the environment and to free up space in the airports
in particular for longer distances services, to allow this growth,
albeit at a lower rate, to continue.
56. You do limit, do you not, the growth of
air traffic transport in this paper? That is indicated on page
106, is it not? If one were to look at air traffic and the growth
that there has been, would it not be better for the Commission
to move towards the levels of air transport that there are within
the United States?
(Mr Rees) Mr Donohoe is right, of course, that the
average American citizen travels much more by air than the average
citizen in the Community.
57. It is important to know that "limit
the growth in air transport" is a reflection of the view
of the Commission on the future of aviation.
(Mr Rees) Yes, I think that statement is the way in
which we are thinking, but allow me again to qualify that. Clearly
there is a latent demand for more transport by air. If you are
going to travel on holiday from Scotland to the Mediterranean,
we are not recommending that you travel by Eurostar, but clearly
there is a possibility for travellers who travel from Paris to
Marseilles to travel by TGV. If you take out a flight from Paris
to Marseilles, you could replace it across France by a flight
that originates in Glasgow or in Edinburgh, which is using the
same slot to travel down through France to arrive in Marseilles
58. That would require a very interesting dirigiste
programme from the Commission, would it not? You would then be
not only interfering with the movement of slots, the agreement
on slots, in relation to particular companies, but you would also
be actually telling the passengers what of mode of transport they
ought to choose. I am not against a little bit of dirigisme
but it is an interesting thing that we should actually say on
the one hand that you want to limit the growth in air transport
and then use as an example the suggestion that you could take
out short flights and replace them with trains. I think it is
a very good idea, but are you actually saying it would be the
policy of the European Commission that such decisions should be
taken on the grounds of your White Paper?
(Mr Rees) We assume, and I think in general we have
the evidence to support us, that consumers make the right decisions
in accordance with the alternatives that are on offer.
59. But you have just said that there would
not be an alternative..
(Mr Rees) In relation to Paris-Marseilles there will
be an alternative because the airlines will be continuing, but
there will be a better train service. In the case, for instance,
between Paris and Lyon, where the new high speed train service
has been in place now for almost 20 years, the air market has
almost dropped to nothing in terms of point-to-point flights.
There are still flights from Paris to Lyon but these are interlining:
in other words, people getting on in Lyon, flying to Roissy/Charles
de Gaulle or Orly and then taking another flight. We are really
saying that we want to offer consumers more choice. One of these
elements of choice would be a much improved rail service. If there
is an alternative between an air flight and a rail journey over
a reasonable distance, over a reasonable time, three and a half
hours or four hours maximum, we believe, and the experience confirms
this, that more and more people will opt for the rail service.
The consequence of this will be that the airlines probably will
reschedule their activities; they will reallocate the slot in
the airport to a longer distance service where there is no rail