6 Conclusion |
139. The publication of the White Paper and the High
Level Output Statement (HLOS) clearly marks a step forward for
the railways in the UK. The HLOS provides a clear sense of what
the Government expects up to 2014, and importantly, what it is
prepared to pay for it. This is valuable.
140. For two decades, a 30-year strategy for the
railways was more than most people in the industry dared to dream
of. It has the potential to provide a tremendous sense of purpose
and direction in the industry, and to galvanise the many disparate
elements into action. However, this 30-year plan did not quite
live up to its name. The White Paper is very light on vision and
strategic thinking, and rather represents a missed opportunity.
However, we hope there will be an update in a few years' time,
and that the Department will have learnt what is required.
141. The White Paper, setting out the Government's
objectives for the railways over the next 30 years, and the HLOS,
providing a detailed five-year plan, were published as one integrated
document. Our analysis of this document has demonstrated that
the White Paper has very little to add to the five-year plan set
out in the HLOS. If the two had been entirely separate documents,
there would have been very little to publish as a White Paper,
and the Department would have been forced to come up with a much
stronger and bolder vision for the long-term future of the railways.
The Government should now seek to develop a genuine 30-year strategy.