Select Committee on Transport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Campaign for Yorkshire (REN 32)


"The Yorkshire and Humber region is at the centre of key north-south and east-west road and rail corridors including the M1, A1 and M62, the East Coast Main Line and Trans-Pennine rail lines. These routes are of vital importance to the competitiveness of the region and growing congestion problems need to be tackled to facilitate economic development. The Humber ports represent an important regional asset and improved road and rail links are a priority. Increasing congestion in the main towns and cities must be addressed to foster regeneration, improve the environment and encourage urban renaissance. In rural areas, improved public transport is needed to tackle problems of car dependency and social exclusion".[19]

1.  Whether the existing franchisees provide satisfactory services, particularly in relation to safety, punctuality, reliability, comfort and frequency of services.

  1.1  The record of the regions rail franchises is patchy and varies from a relatively effective and efficient service provision by GNER line, to a less than satisfactory service of Arriva and patchy provision of Midland Mainline. Getting around the region by rail is not always easy and almost impossible in some parts after 6pm. One local resident complained to me that getting into Hull by public transport after that time is still difficult.

  1.2  These difficulties are compounded by poor parking provision in many of the key stations that means that commuter travel is often restricted by the inability to park rather than the lack of service. This is notable around Wakefield, York and Sheffield not to mention some of the lesser-used lines and whilst Leeds has good parking faculties next to the station the cost is prohibitive to many users.

  1.3  The varying nature of service provision is matched by the wide disparities in the nature and condition of the rolling stock with Midland Mainline and some of Transpennine coaches being substantially older and less comfortable than GNER.

  1.4  Rail service providers are also hindered by other problems. Mining subsidence around the coalfields of South Yorkshire has been a persistent problem and still not resolved. It means that trains have to reduce speed substantially over certain parts of the track because of the instability caused by the subsidence. The failure to electrify the north Midlands line has to all extents and purposes excluded Sheffield from being on the "map" of the major train network for the country. In particular it has made commuting to London a long and not particularly comfortable experience.

  1.5  There are some real black spots. The cities of Leeds and Sheffield are the fourth and fifth largest cities in England and of great significance to the region in terms of jobs and commuter activity. Yet they only have one through train during the morning rush hour. Compare this with the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, cities comparable in terms of size and distance apart, which enjoy a regular rail shuttle service as well as a good road system between the two cities. Recently the Scottish Executive agreed £34 million subsidy to Scots Rail to enable the service to run even more effectively. This money has been drawn from the existing Scottish budget of £18-20 billion and interestingly takes the provision well beyond what is required in the Public Service obligation.

  1.6  In this region we have seen a 25% increase in number of cars in the last 10 years. There are severe congestion problems on both the M1 carriageways running through South Yorkshire and at specific junctions (such as 33 and 34) and in West Yorkshire at junctions 40 and 41. This in part is due to the failure to provide an adequate train service between the two cities. A Multi Modal Study is currently studying this but it is difficult to see how under existing arrangements the underlying problems can be tackled.

  1.7  Unlike in Scotland commuters have no one body to lobby for more effective transport provision. Neither is there any one body to plan and determine future needs or link different transport modes together. Immingham is one of the busiest UK ports resulting in excessive freight on a road system that is not designed to cater for the current commuter and freight traffic. What is needed are alternative systems linking in with British Waterways and more holistic thinking and planning of the infrastructure.

2.  Plans for investment in the rail network in the region and whether they meet the needs of additional network capacity and other improvements.

  2.1  Resources come down to regional level through different routes (SRA and Railtrack with involvement from Treasury and DLTR) that makes for an integrated and balanced pattern of investment difficult. The Ten Year plan made no provision for a regional funding allocation. Instead individual regional projects will be determined by bodies such as the Highways Agency and the Strategic Rail Authority and on the Local Transport Plan settlement.

  2.2  There are very different transport needs and issues amongst the English regions depending on the growth pressures and economic conditions of the region. There is little reflection on drawing together the RES and rail investment and it is difficult to see how under the current regime how regional transport needs can be differentiated from national transport needs.

  2.3  It is also hard to dispel the belief that all growth and future investment will be concentrated in and around London and the South East. In the recent Select Committee report[20] several organisations believed that the current growth target has led to a Plan that is dominated by improvements in the south east at the expense of other regional improvements. This view was upheld by the SRA Chairman Richard Bowker who acknowledged to the Committee that the major capital investment projects were focussed on London and the south east[21].

  2.4.  Each region should have its own targets for things like modal shifts, growth in rail passengers and growth in rail freight. This should take into account regional travel-to-work patterns and future commuter patterns and commercial needs. The Government's 10 Year Plan had no real mechanism for a regional contribution to be made and considerations about regional needs and investment other than the existing RTP drawn up by the non-statutory Chambers.

3.  The influence of rail services on the economic and social development in the region.

  3.1  There is an increasing recognition of the significance of transport beyond the field of transport itself. Regions economies are largely related to the effectiveness or otherwise of the regions transport infrastructure. Transport, land-use and economic planning are highly interdependent and require a high degree of co-ordination and will be the only way to achieve and deliver a fully integrated transport policy.

  3.2  It is difficult to reconcile the aspirations of the 10 Year Plan of lower congestion and reduced environmental impacts without major improvements in rail services. Many organisations have criticised the Plan for providing benefits linked to the distance people travel, disproportionately assisting car-owning and richer households.

    "If the Government wishes to tackle social exclusion then it must face up to the difficult policy decisions needed to re-balance the cost attractiveness of public and private transport. . . . The Department has paid only lip service to important indicators such as accessibility, safety and social inclusion. The Plan has been shaped too strongly by the unhelpful indicator chosen to represent congestion. It cannot have been the Department's objective to produce a plan that benefits the better off and those who travel the most. However, the Plan acknowledges that it does just that. It is in complete contradiction to the Department's desires to reduce the need to travel and the Government's aims to promote equity and social inclusion[22]".

  3.3 There are many lessons to be learnt from Europe. The European Commission White Paper "The Future of the Common Transport Policy" took sustainable mobility within Europe as its key theme with policy guidelines to ensure that a proper balance is truck in the "complex equation" required to curb the growth of transport without curbing economic growth. As many Europe countries shows us it is essential that land planning use and transport provision are handled in an integrated fashion which can only be achieved if the two responsibilities are placed in the same authority.

  3.4  However it is not just to Europe we should look. The Scottish Executive's Development Department covers a much wider brief than DTLR including social justice, housing and area regeneration, local government and finance, land use planning and building control, European structural Funds management and roads and transport. This places it in a strong position to achieve strategic integration of transport.


  4.1  Regional capacity for strategic policy development is still relatively weak in most regions. "Current decision-making at regional level is beset by the dominance of the local agenda, whilst regional interests do not have a direct line to the decision-making of national bodies such as the SRA."[23] What is required is a single public transport authority with greater public sector investment in infrastructure and a single regional Strategy encompassing economic, social and environmental objectives and making proposals for transport, land use and economic development.

  4.2  Currently it is impossible to deliver an integrated programme around transport when a crucial part (or parts) lies outside the remit of those undertaking and delivering regional strategies. The experience in Europe has shown that effective spatial and transport planning require an appropriate structure of regional and local authorities. Notably both the German Lander and the French regions are fully responsible for regional railway development with most new schemes linked to regional economic and spatial strategies.

  4.3  West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (Metro) told the SubCommittee that there is "a discrepancy in timescales between regional guidance, local plans, transport plans and the 10 Year Plan". The Subcommittee also noted that greater clarity is required about the linkages between the different levels of regional planning and transport decisions, local transport plans and multi-modal studies. Any revised Plan must be based on the outcomes of joined-up strategies so that the projects contained within it represent those that will be implemented on the ground.

  4.4  Paul Salveson in a recent article suggests a committee structure to focus on transport, environment and strategic planning issues—especially important with the proposals for regions to produce a Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) in future. "One of the great benefits of regionalisation will be the opportunity to bring back together key areas of public policy and planning which have been torn apart over the last 20 years"[24]. This committee would supervise the work of a RTE (Regional Transport Executive) and would place importance on sustainability and social inclusion. In particular they could make a real difference on both strategic rail and highway network and support and strengthen the existing rural transport partnerships that have been established by the Countryside Agency and local authority partners.

Jane Thomas


Campaign for Yorkshire

8 June 2002

19   Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan, Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, July 2000. Back

20   Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Eighth Report, May 27 2002. Back

21   Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Eighth Report, May 27 2002 Chapter 1V. Implementing the Plan. Back

22   Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Eighth Report, May 27 2002. Back

23   Alan Wenban-Smith "Building Regional Institutional Capacity for Integrated Transport Planning"-paper presented to IPPR seminar on March 21. Back

24   Paul Salveson Regionalisation: A view from the North-paper presented to IPPR seminar March 21 2002. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003
Prepared 11 July 2003