Select Committee on Transport Tenth Report


4  Capacity - accommodating growth?

76. With rail patronage having increased by 40% over the past decade, the White Paper and the HLOS acknowledge that capacity has not kept pace with demand on key sections of the network. Load factors—the ratio of the number of passengers on a train to the number of passengers it was designed to carry—have increased on some services to the point of overcrowding.[118] There is an urgent need to plan and invest in order to accommodate future growth, and to alleviate current overcrowding. The primary objective of the White Paper and the HLOS is to increase passenger and freight capacity.[119]

The Government's plans

77. The White Paper applies the Eddington principles for maximising the value for money of capital investments by drawing up a hierarchy of five different types of solutions to capacity problems, ranging from the low-cost, easy to implement and non-contentious through to multi-billion pound infrastructure projects likely to take a long time and a lot of disruption to implement. The plan is for each rail line to be evaluated individually in order to assess the severity of capacity constraints as well as the range of solutions available on that particular line. On that basis, solutions are meant to be tailor-made for individual lines, balancing the severity of need against the costs so as to maximise the benefit of the money invested to the largest possible number of passengers. The five different types of solutions set out in the White Paper are:

i.  Maximising use of existing rail infrastructure by increasing service frequency. This is not always an option, but where it can be achieved, it is a relatively cheap solution;

ii.  Lengthening existing train services. In many cases, this would require only limited investment such as platform-lengthening or upgrades in power-supplies;

iii.  Enhancing the infrastructure so as to improve both frequency and capacity. This may require a higher level of investment such as station re-developments and the elimination of pinch points on the line;

iv.  Simplifying service patterns. This would entail a reorganisation of stopping patterns on some routes, which would inconvenience some passengers, and

v.  Making "step-changes" in infrastructure. Such measures might include multi-tracking existing lines or building new lines. These measures tend to take decades to complete and cost billions of pounds.[120]

78. In every case where a capacity problem is identified, the possibility for a level 1 solution is tested. Only if no level 1 solution can be found, or if it is inadequate will a level 2 solution be considered, and so forth.[121] Efforts to increase capacity during the 2009-14 period (Control Period 4) will be targeted at routes and services with the most serious problems.

79. The HLOS sets out the following shopping list of key measures to improve capacity on the network by the end of Control Period 4 in 2014:

i.  Stabilisation or reduction in the load factors on lines into London and other major cities during the morning peak;

ii.  On London lines where average load factors cannot be reduced to less than 70%, Thameslink and Crossrail should be able to relieve the situation;

iii.  The introduction of 1,300 extra carriages along with any necessary lengthening of platforms and other upgrade work, and

iv.  Thameslink and Crossrail[122] for London; major station upgrades for Birmingham New Street and Reading Stations; infrastructure investments to accommodate the new Intercity Express rolling stock; radio-based signalling; and preparation for a strategic rail freight network.[123]

SERVICES FOR URBAN AREAS

80. Commuting into major cities by rail has increased significantly over the past decade. There has been 32% growth in commuting into London, and an average of 60% growth in other major cities[124] such as Leeds, Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham.[125] However, DfT research indicates that rail commuting remains far more common in London, and the capacity problem is much greater there than in other cities. This is partly because trains are already much longer, with less scope for further lengthening, and because there is often little scope for running extra services. The White Paper sets out the Government's commitment to a range of measures to increase capacity on urban rail services, the primary method being to lengthen trains—1,200 new carriages are to be added to network capacity.[126] In addition, London also gets most of the benefit of Thameslink and Crossrail.

INTER-URBAN SERVICES

81. During the decade from 1995, the demand for inter-urban rail services increased by 35%.[127] Apart from long-distance inter-city journeys such as London to Manchester or Glasgow, these rail services have also increasingly come to be used by commuters travelling shorter distances, increasing load-factors in peak hours.[128] The Government's growth projections indicate that demand on inter-urban rail services may increase by 73% by 2030, but given the uncertainty of such estimates, the emphasis is on providing flexible solutions such as trains that can be lengthened or shortened so as to suit circumstances at any one time.[129]

82. In order to remedy overcrowding on inter-urban services, and prevent a deterioration of conditions caused by the projected future growth in passenger numbers, the Government has committed to two specific measures in addition to the general capacity enhancement initiatives set out at paragraph 79 above. Intercity Express rolling stock will come into full service by 2015, and funding for the development and implementation of radio-based cab-signalling, which would allow a significant increase in service frequency without compromising safety standards, is also planned.[130]

REGIONAL AND RURAL SERVICES

83. The White Paper notes the wide variation in the nature of regional and rural lines, some of which are tiny branch lines, whilst others are relatively busy dual-track lines between towns. Most of the regional and rural network has low load factors, and there is no need to increase capacity. There are exceptions to this, and the Government will make a pool of 30 additional carriages suitable for these lines available for use where required in response to increased demand.[131] The White Paper also commits the Government not to close any regional or rural lines, though it is acknowledged that this position may change beyond 2014.[132]

84. We are pleased that the Government has recognised the need to plan for growth on the railways, and we congratulate Ministers on the development of the first structured plan to develop our railways in many decades. We hope this will be the first of many such plans.

Forecasting and planning for growth

85. The White Paper is based on passenger demand forecasts which indicate that demand will continue to grow significantly - a further 30% over the next decade on top of the 40% growth seen over the past ten years.[133] However, many of our witnesses questioned the validity of the Government's growth forecasts, arguing not only that the forecasts are too cautious, but also that they fail to take account of differentiated local and regional development.[134]

OVERLY CAUTIOUS?

86. Bombardier Trains told us that there was a widespread belief in the industry that the Government's growth estimates were very conservative, and that the plan to procure 1,300 new carriages would prove insufficient to cater for the likely growth in rail patronage.[135] Passenger Focus noted that forecasts of passenger numbers had traditionally been unreliable, with the Strategic Rail Authority having consistently underestimated growth on many routes by a significant margin in the past. Mr Foxall of Passenger Focus also maintained that the Department was well aware of the inadequacy of its growth forecasts.[136]

87. Virgin Trains told us that forecasters and policy makers developing the HLOS and White Paper plans needed to take advice from the people on the ground, in other words freight and passenger rail operators. The passenger and overcrowding figures on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), predicted by the Government for 2014, would, in Virgin's assessment, be reached by 2011.[137] Mr Collins from Virgin explained:

    They are forecasting on average a real growth in passenger volume of about 3% per annum. They then predict the overcrowding levels would get to an unacceptable level by around 2014. Currently as an industry we are achieving twice that rate of real growth so we are achieving about 5.9% of real growth per annum and there is no reason to suggest, even with a slight downturn in the economy, that that type of growth will not continue for the foreseeable future.[138]

88. The Campaign for Better Transport made the important point that the White Paper's passenger growth estimates are based on low oil prices, and that if the dramatic rise in oil prices were to persist, this, along with other potential changes such as new congestion charging schemes, are likely to cause significant additional growth in rail passenger numbers.[139]

89. Professor Begg pointed to evidence of a fundamental shift in the relationship between rail patronage and income. There has traditionally been a relatively direct link between the state of the economy and the number of rail journeys undertaken.

    In the railway in the past we have worked on the assumption that a 1% growth in GDP would increase rail passenger demand by around 2%, maybe just slightly over, but if anything the evidence from the last five years is that we have got much higher income elasticities than that.[140]

Growth forecasts, he suggested, needed to be adjusted to reflect this change in the relationship between GDP and passenger demand.[141]

GEOGRAPHIC DIFFERENTIATION

90. Many witnesses questioned whether the demand forecasts used by the Department were sufficiently sophisticated in terms of local and regional developments affecting rail passenger numbers. They also questioned whether there was adequate communication and co-ordination of forecasts and policy between the DfT and other Government Departments and regional administrations.

91. The County Surveyors Society explained to us that the White Paper and the HLOS for the 2009-14 period are based on passenger growth forecasts developed from the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook. As such, the estimates are "policy neutral":

The Northern Way pointed out that, if successful, policies to narrow the economic growth gap between the North and the South of England would result in significant increases in passenger numbers on trans-Pennine as well as north-south routes. It was vital, they believed, that this was factored into growth forecasts and rail planning at this stage. Any delay in so doing could, in their view, damage the economic prospects of the North of England.[143]

92. Several regional authorities had identified significant discrepancies between the Department's growth forecasts and those resulting from detailed work on Regional Planning Assessments (RPA), Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) and Regional Economic Strategies (RES). The West Midlands Regional Rail Forum was concerned that, although there were 23 routes with "targeted increase in capacity" in the West Midlands, little account had been taken of the expected housing growth and its distribution across the region.[144] Furthermore, the Department's forecasts did not, in their view, take modal shift trends on certain routes adequately into account. One example was the modal shift for journeys into the centre of Birmingham, where the share of journeys completed by rail had increased by eight percentage points over the past decade to the point where 40% of journeys were now by rail.[145] The South West Regional Assembly and the South West Regional Development Agency echoed this, explaining that the South West Regional Economic Strategy (RES) for 2006-15 and the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) 2006-26 forecast strong growth for the region, particularly in Bristol, Swindon, Exeter and Plymouth.[146] The recently completed Spatial Strategy for the region planned for the construction of 550,000 new houses over the next twenty years,[147] which was not adequately reflected in the Department's passenger forecasts. The South West representatives also called for "a mechanism to allow the projections to be adjusted to accommodate the higher relative growth in some areas."[148]

93. CILT argued that communication and coordination between different Government departments was the only way to improve the accuracy of passenger demand forecasts, ensuring that they reflect regional policy, land use planning and housing developments.[149] The West Midlands Regional Rail Forum called specifically for closer cooperation with the Department for Communities and Local Government in order to better incorporate local patterns of population and housing growth into Route Utilisation Strategies and investment programmes.[150]

94. The Minister did not have much time for concerns about the adequacy of growth forecasts, arguing that "we are providing enough capacity to meet that and to improve it in most parts of the country, particularly in the [...] conurbations outside London".[151] On the issue of whether forecasts and rail planning took sufficient account of local and regional changes in demographics and economic growth, he was no more forthcoming.[152]

95. In an industry where the development and procurement of infrastructure takes many years, or even decades, it is crucial that forecasting is as accurate and sophisticated as possible. We are concerned that the Government is failing to take the concerns of the industry seriously, and that the Department appears to be working in isolation when it comes to predicting future rail patronage. We recommend that the Department revise its method for predicting developments in rail patronage, in collaboration with other Government Departments as well as local and regional authorities.

Network capacity

BUILDING NEW INFRASTRUCTURE

96. The White Paper asserts that, if the investment levels proposed in the HLOS are maintained through future control periods, no major new infrastructure will be required until 2030. However, it also acknowledges that options for major infrastructure enhancements need to be evaluated sooner rather than later because of the lead times for such projects.[153] Iain Coucher of Network Rail concurred with the assessment that, in the longer term, parts of the network would become saturated, and that it would be necessary to build new lines. He told us that it was likely that the West Coast Main Line, the East Coast Main Line, and the Midland Main Line would be the first to saturate. [154]

97. Indeed, some witnesses argued that certain lines were likely to reach saturation point well before 2030, and as Jim Steer pointed out,[155] even the Department's own policy document, Towards a Sustainable Transport System, indicated that "very substantial additional capacity" is likely to be required on the West Coast Main Line by 2024 despite the 50% increase following from measures set out in the White Paper.[156] Network Rail indicated that the current infrastructure on the West Coast, East Coast, and Midland Main Lines might suffice for only another five to seven years.[157] Mr Coucher acknowledged Network Rail felt it necessary to start planning work now:[158]

    I think it is incumbent on the delivery side of the rail industry that it should have a clear view about where it would go, what markets it should serve and the package that passengers want. We should make sure it is designed to meet the needs of passengers and freight users. We should have a clear view about what that should look like for the inevitable programme of consideration by the Government. Yes, we would like to get on and do that sooner rather than later.[159]

In other words, time is of the essence, and on 23 June 2008 Network Rail announced that it has commissioned a major study of options for the construction of new lines, conventional or high-speed, on five strategic rail corridors across the UK.[160]

98. The Government's approach to increasing capacity on the rail network through investment in infrastructure is over-cautious. While we welcome the small-scale measures such as platform lengthening and station re-modelling included in the High Level Output Statement, we are convinced that significant investment in new rail lines will be essential, and the Government must join Network Rail to plan for significant expansion of the network sooner rather than later. An investment plan to remove those among the 15 pinch points, identified in the 1998 White Paper, which have not already been remedied, should be produced urgently.

LINE CLOSURES AND THE REOPENING OF DISUSED RAIL LINES

99. The White Paper does not envisage the closure of any currently functioning rail lines, but neither does it promise that any disused lines will be re-opened. The commitment not to close lines was broadly well-received,[161] but several organisations, such as the Campaign for Better Transport, argued that the failure to contemplate the reopening of disused lines was a missed opportunity.[162] The County Surveyors Society argued that better use could be made of many small lines as diversion routes during maintenance works.[163] Somewhat surprisingly, the Minister argued that there was no point in reopening disused lines in order to create additional capacity unless massive quantities of new rolling stock was procured to run on such lines.[164] We welcome the Government's commitment not to close railway lines. However, we find the Minister's argument against the possibility of re-opening disused lines less than convincing. The notion that the immediate availability of rolling stock should dictate whether a rail line is reopened puts the cart before the horse. If there is sound justification for reopening a line, either because extra capacity or a diversionary route is required, then rolling stock will simply have to be acquired for it.

100. Some witnesses were especially concerned that the White Paper fails to guarantee the preservation of disused lines for potential rail use in the future.[165] With particular reference to the three Tunnels on the old Woodhead Line between Sheffield and Manchester, Network Rail thought it was important that any alternative use of the lines should be reversible, should the need to reopen the rail line ever materialise.[166] Sustrans told us about a commendable organisation called Railway Paths Ltd which is dedicated to maintaining disused railway bridges and lines, thereby preserving the basic integrity of disused routes.[167] Transport Watch advocated the idea that disused lines, and even lightly used lines, should be converted to roads, though they seemed to be alone in this view.[168] The Minister, however, argued that decisions about the preservation of disused lines were largely a matter for local authorities, and that it would represent poor value for money, and indeed be ineffective, for the Government to have a policy on this matter.[169]

101. The time and cost involved in developing new railway lines from scratch is vast, compared to the cost of preserving and maintaining the large network of disused lines for possible future use. The Government must make a commitment that all disused lines with any potential for future rail use, be it as part of the strategic rail network or as diversionary routes, should be preserved. Where such lines are put to other uses, this must be reversible so that they can be re-commissioned, should the reopening of the railway become an option.

ROLLING STOCK

102. The White Paper specifies that 1,300 new carriages will be purchased, to relieve congestion, predominantly on urban services.[170] A Rolling Stock Plan, published in January 2008 provided additional detail about the deployment of new rolling stock.[171] A number of our witnesses thought that the additional 1,300 carriages would be inadequate. Richard Brown CBE of Eurostar UK said that this was a short to medium enhancement to capacity, with more needed in the longer term. Planning for the longer term needed to begin now.[172] The RMT said that:

    the additional carriages will be insufficient to cope with projected passenger growth on services which are already overcrowded and where demand is expected to rise by more than 20% by 2014. The failure to order enough additional stock could well lead to an unedifying bidding war between train operators as they compete for the additional carriages.[173]

103. Others were concerned that too little rolling stock was planned for areas other than London. The County Surveyors Society told us that the additional 30 carriages for rural areas were "nowhere near enough." In their view, capacity increases in such areas were comparatively cheap to provide because, over and above the rolling stock, no alterations to the infrastructure, such as platform lengthening, were normally required.[174] The Railway Forum highlighted that the growth in rail demand in cities such as Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester was almost twice the level in London, and that more carriages would be needed in these cities.[175] However, even in London and the South East, which are scheduled to receive over 1,000 new carriages by 2014, Brian Cooke from London TravelWatch believed more would be needed. At best, the new vehicles would cater for the increase in demand between now and 2014, but it would not relieve overcrowding.[176]

104. The West Midlands Rail Forum drew the Committee's attention to the fact that simply looking at numbers of carriages could give a false picture because some carriages had more seats than others. In some cases, the Rolling Stock Plan envisaged stock being replaced with other carriages with fewer seats than the old stock.[177] The South West Regional Assembly and the South West Regional Development Agency were concerned that the quality of some second-hand rolling stock, which would be cascaded down to their area, was inferior. The South West was not in line to receive any of the new rolling stock at all.[178]

105. Network Rail reassured us that the new rolling stock was adequate for the first five years (Control Period 4), and if deficiencies were detected, there was enough flexibility in the system to bring in additional trains.[179] The assurance that the system is flexible was particularly interesting in the light of the Minister's acknowledgement that there is currently no slack in the rolling stock market, in fact there is a shortage of stock available for lease.[180] It is unclear from where flexibility in such a market would come.

106. The Minister admitted that, given current levels of growth in passenger numbers, it was easy to get the sense of having to run to stand still. He sought to reassure us that the 1,300 new carriages would indeed reduce overcrowding, even though it might be too little to be perceptible to passengers:

    It comes to a judgment about whether people can actually tell. In a very, very crowded train if there is a 10% increase in capacity sometimes you could be forgiven for not noticing that there has been that 10% increase.[181]

This hardly amounts to a ringing endorsement of the Government's efforts to reduce overcrowding on the railways.

107. The 1,300 new carriages pledged in the High Level Output Statement are much needed and very welcome. But it is clear that, due to the growth in rail patronage, the new stock is unlikely to relieve overcrowding significantly.

108. We note how little new rolling stock is going to be available to areas outside London and the South East. We expect the Government to address this imbalance through the cascading of rolling stock throughout the system. It is essential that all rolling stock is well matched to the circumstances and requirements of individual lines and that old rolling stock is not replaced by newer, but less suitable cars.

PROCUREMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF ROLLING STOCK

109. Several witnesses expressed concern about the way in which rolling stock is procured and managed, and whether the most appropriate stock is being purchased. The Competition Commission is currently carrying out a major inquiry into the rolling stock leasing market in the UK. We will await the Commission's findings before making detailed comments on the performance of the market in rolling stock, and our comments here will concentrate on the role of the Department for Transport in strategic decision-making and procurement.[182]

Strategy and procurement

110. A Rolling Stock Plan was published by the Department for transport on 30 January 2008, fleshing out where the 1,300 new carriages planned in the High Level Output Statement (HLOS) would be deployed, and giving some indication of the way in which older stock would be cascaded down to other lines. Given that the life span of rolling stock tends to be around three decades, outlasting several successive franchises, a degree of central control would appear to be essential.[183] However, some witnesses were less than impressed with the strategic decision-making of the Department. Mr Ford suggested, for example, that Britain was the only country in Europe to continue to run high speed (inter-city) trains with diesel, and that this was a costly policy because Britain was unable to buy 'off-the-shelf' rolling stock as was the norm elsewhere.[184] Angel Trains was concerned that the DfT was slow, and effectively delayed the introduction of new rolling stock on the network. It had taken three years and £6.7 million in consultants' fees for the DfT to develop the specifications for the Intercity-Express trains which will replace the current Inter City 125 fleet.[185]

111. Angel Trains told the Committee that "virtually all strategic decisions and many lower order decisions" were now taken centrally by the Department for Transport. This was true for the procurement of new rolling stock as well as the allocation of new and existing stock to individual train operating companies and routes. In their view, the Department was exercising very tight control of rolling stock through the franchising process where the number and type of trains were specified for each individual line. Despite the fact that rolling stock was leased directly by train operating companies, the Department had to countersign every leasing agreement.[186] Furthermore, Bombardier told us that the rolling stock manufacturing and leasing industries had not so far been involved in the Department's discussions with Network Rail and train operators about the procurement of new rolling stock.[187] Angel Trains added that the industry could add significant value to the process in terms of cost savings as well as preventing problems and smoothing the process.[188] It is entirely appropriate that strategic decisions about rolling stock procurement and specification should be taken centrally. Given the level of fragmentation of the industry, there is no other way to ensure sensible use of tax-payers' money for long-term investments such as rolling stock. However, we are concerned that the Department may not have adequate and appropriate expertise to handle such vital strategic decisions in-house, and to do so efficiently. Matters of such importance should not be left to expensive external consultants.

FEAST AND FAMINE PROCUREMENT PATTERNS

112. Bombardier Transportation told us that train manufacturers existed in a feast or famine situation. Whereas 5,000 replacement carriages were produced between 1996 and 2007, there would be no replacements at all during 2007-10. Between 2010 and 2014, 1,500 carriages were then due to be procured. Whilst this was not a new problem for the industry, it remained a very serious one which ultimately cost tax-payers dearly. There was now just one rolling stock manufacturer left in Britain, and Bombardier argued that:

When giving oral evidence, Colin Walton of Bombardier told us that a sustained programme of manufacture could save tax payers about 10% on the cost of new rolling stock, and that, apart from the importance of maintaining rolling stock manufacturing in the UK, it was therefore important to improve the way in which rolling stock procurement was managed.[190]

113. We look forward to the Competition Commission's report on the rolling stock market in the UK, due in 2009. In the meantime, the Department must improve its rolling stock procurement strategy so as to create a stable and consistent pattern of procurement. By doing so, it will achieve the best value for money for tax payers, and it will ensure that Britain can continue to have a rolling stock industry.

STATION CAPACITY

114. The White Paper and HLOS sets out the Government's intention to eliminate two serious pinch points on the network by re-modelling and upgrading the stations at Reading and Birmingham New Street.[191] Both stations are key interchanges on busy intercity routes,[192] and particularly in the case of Birmingham, the city is itself a destination for large numbers of commuters. The re-modelling is intended to increase capacity at the stations, in Birmingham by increasing passenger capacity and in Reading by increasing the number of train movements.[193]

115. Witnesses broadly welcomed the two projects[194] although some could not understand why Birmingham and Reading had been chosen over, for example, Manchester and Leeds where serious congestion problems also create pinch points.[195] The Department's answer was that stations had been selected from the Government's list of pinch points on the basis of cost-benefit appraisals.[196] The Minister also told us that the commitment in the HLOS of funding for major remodelling work at Birmingham and Reading stations in no way precluded improvements to other stations. He highlighted ongoing work by Network Rail to establish what improvements were needed on the Manchester hub.[197] The Northern Way told us that since the HLOS, £60 million for work on the Manchester Rail Hub had been included in Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan,[198] and the Government's October 2007 report, Towards a Sustainable Transport System, indicates that solutions are being sought to the capacity problems of the Manchester region as a whole.[199]

116. Peter Rayner thought it was non-sensical to spend £200 million on what, in his view, were merely cosmetic improvements to Birmingham New Street that did not improve the throughput of trains.[200] He argued that the situation of the station made it impossible to increase capacity in any significant way: "New Street is a suburban station in the middle of Birmingham".[201] The West Midlands Regional Rail Forum acknowledged that the potential for increasing the number of trains through Birmingham New Street was very limited,[202] though they pointed out that the works would enable the station to take longer trains.[203]

117. We welcome the Government's commitment to re-modelling stations that are significant pinch points on the strategic rail network. We acknowledge the importance of improving the serious passenger overcrowding at Birmingham New Street Station, but we are not convinced that the current project is adequate. The Government must address the issue of whether Birmingham New Street is ever going to be able to accommodate the throughput of trains required in two or three decades, when the number of services might have doubled. If the station cannot be adapted to such throughputs, then the Government must look for alternative solutions now.

118. We welcome the Minister's assertion that the Government is looking at other major pinch points on the network such as Manchester, and that investments to remodel such stations might be forthcoming. We remind the Government that the elimination of such pinch points on the rail network in the north of England is vital to achieve the rail capacity improvements, which in turn will underpin efforts to drive up economic growth and prosperity in the region. We do not expect to wait till the next HLOS before action is taken.

STATION MODERNISATION

119. The HLOS also promises £150 million to refurbish and modernise 150 "intermediate" railway stations. Although such investment would serve more to enhance passenger experience than to increase capacity, this is nonetheless a measure welcomed by most witnesses. Stations to be modernised will be selected in consultation with Passenger Focus, local authorities and train operating companies.[204] Network Rail told us that additional funding from other sources would also be sought, and that where such additional funding was forthcoming, it might affect priorities.[205] We heard concern that the process of selecting stations for upgrades lacked transparency, and that the emphasis on footfall might result in an overemphasis on stations in London, the South East and other urban areas.[206] We welcome the HLOS commitment to modernise and upgrade 150 stations. We expect the Government to ensure that the process of selecting stations is fully transparent, and we encourage Network Rail's drive to secure additional funding from other sources for the station refurbishment programme.

Encouraging modal shift

120. A number of our witnesses were disappointed that the White Paper did not commit the Government to encouraging passengers from road and air onto the railways - a 'modal shift'.[207] Some, including London TravelWatch, even suggested that the White Paper might discourage modal shift by altering the balance of funding so that passengers would pay a greater share of the cost of the railways.[208] Transport for London highlighted research suggesting that for every 1% increase in rail fares, demand for rail services declines by approximately 0.25%, with the strongest impact being on long-distance routes and the leisure travel market.[209]

121. We heard a range of arguments as to why the Government should encourage modal shift towards the railways. One is that rail is a more environmentally sustainable mode of transport than road or air.[210] On the London to Paris route, the IME told us, a passenger travelling by train accounted for 90% less CO2 emissions than a passenger doing the same journey by plane.[211]

122. Ian Harrison of the County Surveyors Society noted that the total demand for transport was increasing, and satisfying this could not be done through road-building alone. Local authorities were therefore keen to encourage the development and enhancement of other modes, including rail. He was confident that there was suppressed demand in some areas, either through lack of train capacity or through lack of frequency.[212] The South West Regional Assembly and the South West Regional Development Agency pointed out that people are not going to switch to rail travel unless overcrowding is reduced significantly.[213]

123. Jim Steer, of Greengauge 21, argued that planning for the railways into Northern cities needed to include the ability to accommodate a significant shift of commuting from road to rail which was likely to come about as a result of the planned economic expansion.[214]

124. The Government should encourage modal shift. Amongst arguments for embracing a policy to promote a modal shift away from roads and air and towards the railways, environmental impacts along with congestion management are the most compelling. We expect the next High Level Output Statement to include detailed plans and targets for significant increases in the share of journeys made using the railways.


118   See Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, Appendix A, para A9 Back

119   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, Executive Summary Back

120   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 4.9 Back

121   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 4.9 and 4.11 Back

122   The White Paper did not commit Government funding to this programme, but such a commitment followed on 5 October 2007 Back

123   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 4.22 Back

124   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 5.6 Back

125   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, figure 5.2 Back

126   Out of a total of 1,300 new carriages for England and Wales. See Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, Chapter 5 Back

127   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 6.2 Back

128   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 6.5 Back

129   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, paras 6.6-6.10 Back

130   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 6.19 Back

131   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 7.20 p 74 Back

132   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 7.14 p 72 Back

133   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 4.7 Back

134   Ev 134; Q 163; Q 193; Q 475; Q 578; Q 656  Back

135   Q 475  Back

136   Q 578  Back

137   Q 163  Back

138   Q 210  Back

139   Q 656  Back

140   Q 703  Back

141   Q 726  Back

142   Ev 134  Back

143   Ev 178  Back

144   Ev 176  Back

145   Q 685  Back

146   Ev 139; See also Ev 134  Back

147   Q 686  Back

148   Ev 139  Back

149   Q 87  Back

150   Ev 176  Back

151   Q 823  Back

152   Q 860  Back

153   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 6.24 Back

154   Q 241  Back

155   Q 57  Back

156   Department for Transport, Towards a Sustainable Transport System, October 2007, p 66 Back

157   Qq 238-240  Back

158   Q 241  Back

159   Q 242  Back

160   Network Rail: Press Release, 23 June 2008: Meeting the capacity challenge: Network Rail looks at the case for new rail lines; see also: "Major new rail lines considered", BBC News website, 21 June 2008, Error! Bookmark not defined. Back

161   See for example Q 112  Back

162   Q 651  Back

163   Q 112  Back

164   Q 919  Back

165   Ev 280  Back

166   Q 253  Back

167   Q 659  Back

168   Q 657  Back

169   Qq 918-919  Back

170   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 4.22 Back

171   Department for Transport: Rolling Stock Plan, 30 January 2008 Back

172   Q 193  Back

173   Ev 160  Back

174   Q 136  Back

175   Q 76  Back

176   Q 581  Back

177   Q 694  Back

178   Q 696  Back

179   Q 228  Back

180   Q 832  Back

181   Q 833  Back

182   Competition Commission: Rolling Stock Leasing Market Investigation: Statement of issues, Error! Bookmark not defined. . The inquiry commenced in April 2007 following a referral from the ORR, and the Commission is planning to publish its final report in April 2009. Back

183   Q 373  Back

184   Q 52  Back

185   Ev 291; Bids to build the intercity Express were submitted in May 2008. A contract is expected to be awarded in April 2009, with trains entering full service in 2015.  Back

186   Ev 291  Back

187   Qq 450-452  Back

188   Q 453  Back

189   Ev 238  Back

190   Q 450  Back

191   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 6.22 Back

192   Reading on the Great Western Mainline and Birmingham New Street on the West Coast Main Line Back

193   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, para 6.22; See also: Q 276; Q 721 Back

194   See for example Ev 280  Back

195   Q 64; Q 729  Back

196   Q 870  Back

197   Q 869  Back

198   Q 693  Back

199   Department for Transport, Towards a Sustainable Transport System, October 2007, para 24 Back

200   Qq 329-330  Back

201   Q 331  Back

202   Q 724  Back

203   Qq 722-723  Back

204   Department for Transport: Delivering a Sustainable Railway, CM 7176, July 2007, paras 10.65-10.67 Back

205   Q 274  Back

206   Ev 117  Back

207   See for example Ev 160; Q 129 Back

208   Q 612; See also Ev 228; Ev 251; Q 738  Back

209   Q 735  Back

210   Ev 155; Ev 214; Ev 251 Back

211   RWP 34 Back

212   Qq 134-135  Back

213   Q 697  Back

214   Q 66  Back


 
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