77. A modern railway should meet customer needs,
and meet the wider needs of society in providing clean, efficient
transport. Without efficient railways the flow of traffic on our
already congested roads would be greater, emissions would be increased,
and alternatives to car use diminished.
78. The experience of Arriva Trains Northern brought
home the value of rail. The bus services took twice as long as
the trains they replaced, and Mr Cameron accepted that bus services
were not comparable to trains:
"They do not make the journey time, they do
not give the facilities trains can give for those people with
buggies, those people who need facilities for the disabled".
79. Rail services may not always be appropriate,
but there is no doubt they have many advantages. Our transport
system should be able to proved a robust rail service, and should
be focussed on what rail can provide for the customer, and for
the region in which it operates.
80. Our inquiry into Railways in the North has instead
shown a complex structure, in which responsibility is widely dispersed
and there is little, or no, coherent way in which regional aspirations
or customer needs can be given the attention they deserve. Problems
such as the driver shortage at Arriva Trains Northern, were allowed
to drift until action could not be avoided, and there was no time
to communicate with customers. Rightly or wrongly, the SRA appears
to have blocked plans for network infrastructure expansion, funded
by TOCs, while allowing ultimately unsustainable timetable changes.
PTEs and local authorities are inadequately consulted; underlying
demand cannot be met.
81. The result of this can be seen in the most recent
edition of National Rail Trends. While passenger kilometres on
long distance London and South East routes had risen compared
to the previous comparable quarter, those for regional operators
had declined by 3%. Similarly, the number of journeys carried
by long distance and London and South East operators had risen
by 5.8% and 0.4% respectively while regional journeys had fallen
by 6.3%. If the service offered by other regional rail routes
matches that in the North, these figures cause little surprise.
However, they are deeply disappointing, since it is clear there
is market demand for a high quality, reasonably priced rail service.
The United Kingdom has the world's fourth largest GDP; there is
no reason why it should not provide one. It is intolerable that
North of England should be so badly served.
83 Q 34. Back