Memorandum by Transport for London Rail
Services (SRA 09)
The committee has invited the submission of
evidence in relation to the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) by
21 November 2002 and on other aspects of the inquiry by Monday
2 December. This submission relates only to the aspects of the
inquiry concerning the SRA. In this evidence TfL sets out its
objectives, in respect of evidence relating to this inquiry and
how TfL work with the SRA at the present time. This submission
underlines the need for stronger local policy direction with a
London focus in order to support the SRA in fulfilling its objectives
and to meet the objectives of the 10-year Plan.
In Britain, London is uniquely dependent on
national rail services. More than 70 per cent of journeys by national
rail begin or end in London and, daily, 500,000 people use national
rail to commute to work in London. Rail services, and therefore
the activities of the SRA, are extremely important to the lives
of people who live in, work in or visit London. TfL therefore
welcomes the opportunity to submit to the committee evidence on
the policies and activities of the SRA. TfL believes that the
work of the SRA in London can be assisted if we are given a stronger
voice, specifically with regard to the franchising process, an
ability to directly fund services and an improved ability to co-ordinate
integrated transport initiatives.
In addition, TfL believe there is a need for
the adoption of common business appraisal methods for London rail
to provide a more cohesive strategic regional policy direction.
It should be noted that in recent times a good
professional relationship has been established between the SRA
and TfL which forms a sound basis on which the parties are building
to develop improved co-operative working in order to develop and
enhance London's rail services. However this is only a voluntary
working relationship and TfL would submit that a firmer, more
formal structure be established in due course to build upon the
voluntary agreements now being set up. TfL believe this is an
essential development if we are to provide the right strategic
direction for London's transport network as befits a world-class
Transport for London (TfL) is the integrated
body responsible for the capital's transport system. It is directly
responsible to the Mayor of London. Its role is to implement the
Mayor's Transport Strategy for London and manage the transport
services across the capital for which the Mayor has responsibility.
TfL has responsibility for both the planning and delivery of transport
facilities, which enables it to take a truly integrated approach
to how people, goods and services move around London. The rail
objectives in the Mayor's Transport Strategy are summarised in
TfL is governed by a 15-person Board appointed
by the Mayor and is directly responsible for:
London Buses, Croydon Tramlink, and
the Docklands Light Railway;
managing London's network of major
roads, known as the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) and
all traffic signals in London;
regulating taxis and minicabs; and
overseeing London's River services
and Victoria Coach Station.
The London Underground is currently under the
control of the Government but is planned to transfer to TfL once
arrangements for the PPP procurement are concluded.
The provision of national rail services is currently
outside TfL's direct responsibilities despite their importance
in bringing commuters into London. The Mayor, through TfL, may
give Directions and Guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA)
on the development of national rail passenger services in London
but not rail freight services.
The key role of National Rail to the London
economy and the rapid growth in demand in Londonprojected
by the London Plan to continue increasing over the next 15 years
(transport capacity permitting) means that planning needs to maximise
efficient access by London's workers to its jobs and supporting
development and regeneration priorities in the London Plan. TfL
must have a more formal process with SRA to develop an acceptable
and reasonable balance between National Rail suburban services
designed to meet the specific needs of London and longer distance
passenger and freight services, where they compete for scarce
resources or funds.
The point of regional government is to ensure
that local needs are properly taken into account including matters
such as transport. The paradox is that national rail is much more
important to London than any other part of the country. At present
the Mayor and TfL have very limited powers to influence national
rail services. Control instead rests primarily with the SRA. This
stands in marked contrast to the arrangements for local rail services
in other major European cities such as Paris, Rome and Berlin.
It also contrasts with the arrangements elsewhere in the UK where
other major conurbations have Passenger Transport Authorities
and Executives with greater influence over their local rail services
than presently exists in London.
The conclusion from this is that there needs
to be an improved method of integrating all London's transport
if we are to see a step change in the quality of services offered
and their development.
Under the GLA Act 1999 the Mayor is able to
give Directions and Guidance to the SRA. Whilst this gives the
Mayor an opportunity to have an input into the development of
London's rail services, the terms of the Act restrict the ability
of the Mayor and TfL to require either the SRA or train operators
to make changes to or develop services. The outcome of this is
that TfL's ability to develop integrated public transport to best
meet the needs of Londoners is restricted in a key mode, rail.
In order to facilitate a better method of securing
a voice for London in the strategic development of rail in London
and in the development of the relevant franchises, TfL are at
present working with the SRA on the development of a Memorandum
of Understanding that will provide a robust framework for improved
working arrangements between the two authorities. The MOU will
act as a subset to the Mayor's Directions and Guidance, with the
agreement setting out obligations on both parties and dealing
with such issues as consultation, joint funding, development of
franchise outputs and fares.
Whilst this is a productive step in the right
direction the agreement is voluntary and may have limitations
in its application. TfL believe that there needs to be a more
sound basis, probably established through legislation, in order
to secure a proper voice for London to influence the development
of its suburban rail network. TfL believes that London's transport
needs a strategic body which has comprehensive influence over
all modes including national rail services in London. TfL would
contend that in large parts of London and the South East, particularly
in Essex, Kent, Sussex and Surrey the rail network is predominantly
a London commuter based network and for that reason it is believed
that a London-based body should be established, with membership
which includes representation from TfL, the SRA and adjacent Counties.
This body would be able to develop a strategic policy for all
local public transport in the Capital and surrounding travel to
work area, thus allowing proper input by the Mayor, TfL and the
Counties and would not rely on the sole direction of the SRA,
which at times may be dictated by national interests rather than
taking full account of regional interests and requirements. Arguably
TfL's present responsibilities suggest that such a body should
be administered by TfL. However the purpose of this paper is to
draw the Committee's attention to present inconsistencies in the
management of London's transport and to make the case for change.
The exact structure of any future London-based transport body
is a matter for further detailed discussion.
London has a high demand for commuter services
with, each day, around 500,000 people travelling into Central
London on national rail services. Overall demand remained constant
after the crisis at Hatfield and has since been increasing despite
poor performance on many routes. London is dependent on national
rail for commuting due to road traffic congestion and lack of
coverage by the Underground particularly south of the Thames.
The structure of the railway industry post privatisation
has failed to deliver improvements in service reliability or provide
additional capacity where it is most needed in the context of
London and the South East. While there has been considerable growth
in services, in London, these have not been during the peak commuter
times when the network is already operating at close to capacity.
The need for change has been recognised by Government
the decision to seek to place Railtrack
into administration and replace it with Network Rail; and
previously, the creation of the Strategic
TfL supports these changes but the performance
of the railway industry and the effectiveness of SRA and Network
Rail in improving the quantity, quality and reliability of rail
services needs to be carefully monitored. TfL believes that further
changes, in the strategic management structure and approach, are
likely to be needed to ensure that local rail services are also
improved and in order to meet the needs of London and the economy
of the South East as a whole.
TfL operates one railway franchisethe
Docklands Light Railway (DLR). This is now acknowledged as the
most reliable rail service in the UK.
The key success of the DLR has been the careful
and detailed specification of the franchise contract and its subsequent
management through a review structure involving the franchisee
at Managing Director level. Financial incentives are part of
this process. Responsibility for upgrades and extensions to the
network have been retained by DLR allowing the franchisee to concentrate
on day-to-day operations. By implication the vertical integration
inherent on the DLR has enabled consistent performance to be delivered
and suggests that further review of the arrangements on national
rail are needed.
5. THE FINANCING
TfL's role is to implement the Mayor's Transport
Strategy, however these objectives are inhibited by section 201
of the Greater London Authority Act which prevents TfL from entering
into agreements to directly fund rail services. Any funding must
be channelled through the SRA and requires their agreement. This
therefore leaves the Mayor and TffL in a weaker position concerning
rail services than county, borough, or district councils.
Additionally, there is a lack of transparency
under the terms of the present franchise agreements that makes
it difficult to independently gauge the level of additional funding
required from TfL to procure additional commuter rail services.
TfL does not have the powers to obtain the information necessary
to make value for money judgements. This has to be obtained in
agreement with the SRA and, whilst sharing of information does
take place, the lack of any formal rights for TfL limits its ability
to operate an independent decision making process for investment
in London's public transport.
A further difficulty is that the SRA has different
appraisal methods that are narrower and more cost based than those
used by TfL. TfL has adopted common appraisal methods for transport
schemes in London that take greater account of external benefits
including regeneration and social inclusion. These are applied
to buses, DLR and roads and will be applied to London Underground.
TfL is strongly of the view that public funds can be more effectively
targeted using common appraisal methods and would wish to see
the SRA adopt such methods in the future for further London rail
Partly as a result of this different approach
to appraisal, TfL is also concerned that the SRA's approach to
capacity utilisation, its fiscal priorities and the problems with
the overall financial requirements of the railways may result
in greater priority being given to long distance services, which
generate more income per passenger mile, at the expense of local
services. It is possible that the value of local services in revenue
generation terms may be lower than long distance services, but
in terms of regeneration and social inclusion benefits they are
It might be considered that at least some of
the problems could be remedied through the Mayor's powers to issue
Directions and Guidance to the SRA. However as noted earlier the
SRA can disregard the Directions and Guidance in many circumstances.
Such inconsistencies in funding arrangements
and powers, particularly with regard to London results in a fragmented
approach in procuring the development of rail services in the
Capital and undermines the ability of public funding to deliver
efficient, economic transport operations. TfL advocates the development
of a new body, as set out in section 3, with appropriate funding
powers for London's suburban rail services in order to address
these regional issues.
6. THE FUTURE
TfL believes there is a need for franchise rationalisation
to optimise the utilisation of network capacity. The SRA's policy
of consolidation of franchises at most London termini is therefore
welcome so long providing local service needs are adequately safeguarded.
The competing demands of long-distance and suburban services need
to be managed both strategically and operationally.
The fragmentation of powers between different
authorities means it is not possible for TfL to fully integrate
national rail services with other transport modes in London, in
spite of the good progress on co-operative working. Trying to
apply the South London Metro concept of frequent turn-up-and-go
services has been illustrative of the difficulties. The required
changes have been seen as difficult and in some areas cost prohibitive.
TfL is not able to drive these changes through unless consensus
can be achieved with all parties and this can often result in
a reduction in the overall benefits for end users.
The more prescriptive approach being considered
by the SRA to manage service specifications and the outputs of
franchising is likely to make it even more difficult to modify
service patterns after a re-franchising deal has been concluded.
It is therefore essential for TfL to have an early voice in the
franchising process and the resultant service specification. TfL
does not oppose a move away from the existing set of Passenger
Service Requirements that establish minimum service levels. These
have effectively fossilised many rail services while London is
a changing and growing city with changing and growing transport
needs. TfL believes that franchise specifications must take account
of present and future needs. TfL believes it would be beneficial
to develop a group of London and South East franchises or London
and South East business units within larger franchises governed
by an agreed framework of common standards for London. In franchises
that combine longer distance and commuter services there should
be a discrete business unit to manage the interests of commuter
services and provide accountability to supporting public authorities.
TfL would hope to have a formal relationship with such a grouping
within franchises and this may be an appropriate arrangement which
would enable TfL funding to be effectively channelled into London
and South East rail services.
None of the above need be detrimental to longer
distance rail services for which the SRA must remain responsible.
TfL recognises their strategic importance both to London and to
the towns and cities they connect with London.
7. THE FUTURE
The SRA has taken over responsibility for major
upgrades leaving Network Rail to concentrate on the day-to-day
management of the existing railway network. Requiring Network
Rail to focus on day-to-day operations is a welcome change as
Railtrack was highly deficient in its stewardship of the network.
TfL also believes that it is sensible not to place responsibility
for upgrades on train operators as they too need to concentrate
on day-to-day operational matters.
However, TfL is concerned that the SRA has been
unable as yet to commit to many infrastructure upgrades and the
resultant improved growth targets. These are needed to support
the requirements of the London Plan and to enable a co-ordinated
and integrated approach across London's different transport modes.
Existing services utilise nearly all London's rail capacity at
peak periods and demand is growing. Providing additional capacity
is essential to the London economy.
Whilst co-operation between the SRA and TfL
has so far been good (eg developing the Crossrail schemes), the
absence of powers for TfL in the wider sense is a concern. More
formalised arrangements for TfL to have an input into the smaller
infrastructure schemes are highly desirable.
A key element of TfL's plans involves the creation
of effective interchange facilities away from central London to
facilitate orbital journeys and alleviate pressure on London termini.
These will involve a mixture of heavy rail, underground, light
rail tram and bus services. The ability of TfL to specify and
co-ordinate the national rail elements elements of these interchanges
is essential if the policy is to be effective.
8. RAIL FREIGHT
At privatisation, rail freight was wholly privatised
rather than franchised. As such the Mayor's powers to issue Directions
and Guidance do not apply to the rail freight sector. However,
the Mayor does have responsibilities for freight transport through
the transport, waste, economic development and other strategies
that must be developed and applied.
At present, public support for the strategic
development of freight routes, new terminals, etc, is largely
channelled through the SRA. This is another area where TfL believes
there is a strong need for national rail to be properly integrated
with local transport and other policies. TfL would wish to see
formal structures that enabled it to influence the SRA and, where
appropriate, supplement SRA support in order to meet local objectives.
The conclusion here is that the Mayor needs
to have additional powers of Direction over the SRA with a specific
reference to freight.
In Conclusion Transport for London contends
that the strategic planning of rail in London and the South East
could be substantially improved by the formalisation of working
arrangements between the SRA and TfL. The key areas which remain
to be addressed are:
Reviewing the restrictions currently
in place relating to the Mayor's Directions and Guidance, and
strengthening his powers to provide providing a firm legal foundation
for the development of improved and structured co-operation between
The ability of TfL as the regional
authority to fund appropriate rail improvements in London and
to obtain access to the relevant information to facilitate the
required judgements on the progression of schemes.
The development of common business
appraisal methods for all public transport schemes, to include
wider social benefits.
Further rationalisation of the franchise
map, or development of London-based operating units within the
existing franchise framework to provide a focus for strategic
development within London.
TfL as the regional authority to
have formal involvement in franchise development. This should
involvement in production of
baseline output requirements;
the review of prospective bids
and enhanced outputs;
a method of jointly agreeing,
with SRA, the specifications for London, similar to the powers
enjoyed by PTEs.
A greater focus on development of
an organisational authority for all London's public transport
which will allow an improved, integrated approach to transport
by its ability to develop complementary strategies for all modes.
THE MAYOR'S TRANSPORT STRATEGY
The Mayor's Transport Strategy requires improvements
to both the quality and extent of London's rail services. In setting
up TfL's organisation the Mayor requested a report designed to
ensure that TfL can influence improvements to rail services within
London. The active progression of major rail infrastructure schemes
for the capital is also essential.
There are a number of critical areas where improvements
are urgently needed in the quality and quantity of commuter rail
services in London. These are:
More and better services on London's
orbital rail networkincluding the West and North London
Lines and also the dense suburban network South of the Thames,
which largely complements the Underground network.
Improvements to the capacity of radial
routes that have no or poor inner suburban services including
Stratford to Lea Valley and the Chiltern routes.
Augmenting capacity on existing routes
into London by reducing operational complexity and multiple London
terminals on individual routes. Replacement of irregularly timed
services and increasing train length is also essential.
A sensible interchange policy whereby
people can change from National Rail to the Underground and between
mainline routes on the approaches to London so providing access
to the congested inner suburbs around central London and particularly
relieving overcrowding on the Underground at London terminals
such as Victoria.
Proper fares integration. National
Rail fares need to be aligned with fares on the Underground and
the buses. Travelcard tickets do exist but many day fares are
out of line within London.
Unified marketing for London commuter
services as opposed to separately branded rail companies.
A code of standards on security that
are actually adhered to.
A realistic and complementary plan
for the routing of rail freight in and around London that is consistent
with an increased level of passenger services.
An immediate start on major rail
projects in the form of regional metro services including the
East London Line Extension, Thameslink 2000, Crossrail 1 and Crossrail
2 (Hackney to South West).
National Rail must be developed so
that access to the regeneration areas of London is improved. A
50% increase in capacity over the next 10 years is required by
a combination of service improvements and new projects in order
to meet increased demand as a result of dramatic population growth
and also to reduce overcrowding. This is complementary to the
Secretary of State's overall UK requirement that franchises deliver
50% more journeys.