Select Committee on Transport Tenth Report

1  Introduction

1. The White Paper, Delivering a Sustainable Railway, was published on 24 July 2007. It sets out the Government's general vision for the railways for the next thirty years as well as the specific and detailed strategy for the 2009-14 period,[1] which is contained in the High Level Output Statement (HLOS) included in the White Paper. The White Paper is accompanied by a Rail Technical Strategy.[2] Most rail matters are fully devolved for Scotland, and partially devolved in Wales, so this report relates primarily to England and, at the strategic level, to Wales.[3] Issues concerning rail freight were discussed in our report on Freight Transport, published recently.[4]

Engineering overruns

2. Network Rail's engineering overruns at New Year 2008 at Rugby, London Liverpool Street and Glasgow Shields Junction caused tremendous inconvenience to passengers across the country, and inevitably came to shape and colour our oral evidence sessions. We held additional sessions in January and March in order to take evidence from Network Rail, Bechtel (the main contractor) and twice from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) specifically on these events and their consequences. Our investigation, along with analyses from the ORR, have led us to believe that the engineering overruns are symptomatic of crucial systemic flaws which have to be resolved if we are to have any hope of getting a sustainable railway, as promised in the White Paper. This Report considers both subjects.

3. We are grateful to all those organisations and individuals who submitted written evidence to our inquiry, and in particular to the 45 individuals who gave oral evidence, enabling us to explore the issues in depth. We are particularly grateful to our Specialist Adviser on this inquiry, Professor John Preston of the University of Southampton.

1   Usually referred to as Control Period 4. Back

2   Department for Transport: The Rail Technical Strategy (RTS) Back

3   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 1.30. The Enterprise and Learning Committee of the National Assembly for Wales has reported on issues in the White Paper and HLOS which fall within the remit of the Welsh Assembly Government: National Assembly for Wales, Enterprise and Learning Committee: Planning for future railway provision, 21 November 2007, Error! Bookmark not defined. Back

4   Transport Committee: Eighth Report of Session 2007-08: Freight Transport, HC 249, July 2008 Back

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Prepared 24 July 2008