Select Committee on Transport Tenth Report

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.

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