Memorandum by Dr Roger Sexton (RR 22)
I am in broad agreement with your recent report
"The Future of the Railway". Paragraphs 62 and 87 of
the conclusions to that report are particularly relevant to what
I want to say about rural railways. In paragraph 87 you suggest:
"in rural areas the specification of [rail]
services might be devolved to the local bodies, as in the case
of [urban] Merseyside."
I strongly support that suggestion. What follows
is based on my memorandum to the committee regarding the future
of railways generallyespecially section 12 of that memorandum.
2. THE PROBLEM
One of the reasons why rural railways in countries
such as Switzerland and Denmark are so good is that they are protected
from bus competition. By contrast, one thing which makes the remaining
rural railways in Britain so vulnerable is that, unlike in the
rest of Europe, rural railways are not protected from bus competition.
Alone amongst the advanced nations of the world,
this country has persisted for seventeen years with the nonsense
of bus deregulation. As I have pointed out on numerous occasions,
deregulation and the concomitant application of Competition Law
to public transport is the absolute antithesis of integration.
Amazingly, this country has an agency called "The Commission
for Integrated Transport" even though bus deregulation makes
In its consultation "Community Railway
Development", the Strategic Rail Authority (at 4.5) refers
to the need "for train and bus services to be planned together".
Bus deregulation makes such planning impossible.
3. CREATE A
In my memorandum to the (old) Transport Sub-committee
regarding bus services, I advocated that the London system of
bus franchising should be extended to the rest of the country.
The franchising would be done by regional PTEs.
In my memorandum to your committee regarding
the future of railways, I proposed that the regional PTEs should
also take over the franchising of local railway services in their
respective areas. The regional PTEs would have their own budgets,
but I would expect them to ensure that bus and train services
were integrated with each other, not competing with each other.
I obviously stick by this latter proposal, though
I would add that there is a particular need for carefully planned
and integrated public transport systems in rural areas. In heavily
populated urban areas there may be a case for competition between
public transport modes. That is certainly not true of rural areas.
4. THE SWEDISH
As I explained in my previous memorandum, the
model for this proposal for regional PTEs comes from Sweden, where
all local bus, train and boat services are franchised by regional
PTEs called "Lanstrafiken". All transport timetables
are integrated with each other. All services within a particular
Lanstrafik area have the same fares system.
In my previous memorandum, I suggested that
the committee paid a study visit to the Väst region based
in Gothenburg, to see how things should be done. I repeat that
suggestion, with one crucial addition. You should also visit the
neighbouring region of Jonkoping Lan.
In Jonkoping Lan you will see a
group of rural rail services planned by the Lanstrafiken and integrated
(fares and timetables) with both rural and city bus services.
Interestingly, the main Jonkoping city bus routes are operated
by the British operator Arriva. Of the rural rail services, some
are operated by a private Swedish company, BK Tag, while the rest
are operated by Swedish Railways (SJ)still state owned.
19 April 2004