Memorandum by the Quality Transport Partnership
THE FUTURE OF THE RAILWAYS
My attention has been drawn to a submission
to the Transport Select Committee by Dr Leunig, regarding some
statistics used in quoting the cost of public financial support
for maintaining rail services on the Isle of Wight. The figure
quoted would be correct on the assumption that all passenger journeys
are correctly recorded and that all the access charges paid by
Island Line are actually reinvested in the rail infrastructure
on the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately this is not true in either
The reported passenger figures, upon which the
SRA produce their statistics, only count passenger journeys made
with tickets purchased on railway ticket machines and are reported
through the LENNON (ex-CAPRI) system. This excludes passenger
journeys utilising the "Isle of Wight Bus/Rail" rover
ticket as well as through tickets purchased from ferry operators,
mainland bus companies and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
Information collected by an independent analyst
for Island Line and reported in the Isle of Wight Council's Annual
Progress Report states that these extra journeys, not reported
by the SRA, are around 300,000 per annum and rising. Thus the
real number of passengers on Island Line is just over 1 million
As you may be aware, Island Line is unique in
that it is at present a vertical franchise. Island Line pay approximately
£1 million each year in access charges, however, research
shows that for each year since privatisation, on average, only
around £300,000 has been spent on maintenance and renewals.
Information provided in Railtrack's last "Network Management
Statement" indicates that this under spend will continue
for the next 11 years. Thus of the £2 million financial support
provided by the Government to sustain rail services on the Isle
of Wight £600,000 disappears straight back to the mainland.
I appreciate that in a national context this is not a lot of money
but if during the nine years since privatisation the sum of around
£5.5 million had been invested in the island's rail network
we would now have a modern expanded system that so many people
see as a solution to the island's transport problems.
To conclude, if the real amount of subsidy actually
spent on the island's railway is divided by the real number of
passengers using Island Line, the subsidy per passenger journey
is reduced from the £2.60, suggested by the SRA, to £1.30.
Therefore, the statistic quoted by Dr Leunig is reduced from 60p
per passenger mile to 30p per passenger mile.
I would be grateful if you could accept the
above as evidence to your Select Committee in order to correct
the record. The island's railway is an essential part of our transport
infrastructure for tourism and local communities alike, misinformation