Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence

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 generally—especially section 12 of that memorandum.


  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 integration impossible.

  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.


  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.


  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.

Roger Sexton

19 April 2004

previous page contents next page

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

© Parliamentary copyright 2005
Prepared 21 April 2005