Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1480 - 1499)

  1480. MR REED: I am grateful to your Lordships. My Lords, this is a case of competing demands and where the balance of significance is judged by your Lordships to lie; effectively, it is cost against disabled access. My Lords, in short, the question is: is there to be full access at two of the stations on the Crossrail route, and is that worth the cost involved?

  1481. My Lord, the decision, Newham says, is a decision that cannot be reached in a vacuum. One cannot understand, I should say, the importance of having full accessibility in the rail system and at two particular stations until you properly understand the policy context for reaching that decision. My Lord, it is for that reason that I went through with Dr Maynard the various policy documents relating to accessibility, and, in particular, the Railways for All document produced by the Government. What I say is that that is clear and straightforward; quite simply, it emphasises the importance of having an accessible rail system to the disabled.

  1482. They should be able, in short, to access adequately the rail system. The ultimate approach I suggest, my Lord, is this: that if one is dealing with a new railway system it should be upgraded to fully accessible status. My Lord, that is something that Mr Berryman himself acknowledged in cross-examination. The question, ultimately, and it is the only answer that Ms Lieven has on this point, is whether or not this is to be regarded as a new railway. The answer, you have heard from Ms Lieven, was "Well, that is ludicrous".

  1483. What I want to do, in those circumstances, is read something to you. It is from the Equality Impact Assessment, paragraph 1.1, and you have a copy of it in your papers. Crossrail say this: "Crossrail is a major new railway that will run under Central London through new tunnels linking Maidenhead and Heathrow in the West with Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the East." That is the way Crossrail itself puts itself forward. That is how it justified what it was: a major new railway, and to be regarded as such. If it is irrational, it is irrational from the words put forward by Crossrail themselves. So I suggest, my Lord, it is no answer to the point that we make, namely that policy should lead to a presumption that there will be upgraded stations along the Crossrail line.

  1484. So what I suggest, my Lord, is that there has to be some convincing reason as to why full accessibility—the upgrading of existing stations—should not be undertaken. That, then, comes down to whether or not the criteria that Crossrail themselves have put forward to justify why they are not upgrading are satisfied.

  1485. My Lord, before I go on to deal with those particular criteria, can I raise several positive reasons as to why it is important in this case that Newham, particularly, should benefit from upgraded stations. The first is something that you have heard on a good many occasions over the last two days, which is Newham's significant deprivation—deprivation experienced by those who are going to be (the relevant people we are dealing with) the mobility restricted. They are people who face a double problem: namely, low income and mobility restricted. It is those types of people, my Lord, you may think, that more significantly benefit from close and accessible stations. They are not people that are going to be able to benefit to the same degree from, for example, accessibility to cars and accessibility to the taxi system. Looking at the question of mothers and children, they are not going to benefit from free bus accessibility either.

  1486. My Lord, although Ms Lieven says that we are dealing with very small percentage differences in terms of the incidence of disability in Newham, the evidence has been provided that Newham does have a higher level of disability incidence than in London generally and in England. My Lord, that is relevant in this case because it indicates the extent to which there is, again, to be a benefit in having the upgrading; it reiterates the importance of having the upgrading.

  1487. My Lord, what I say is that when looking at it overall, of course, Newham—I was going to say "are grateful"—welcome the position in terms of the existence of stations that are going through its borough. My Lord, whilst they of course welcome that, it needs to be a benefit that is a full benefit and that acknowledges the interests of all those who want to use the system. It should not be a gift, as it were, that is only offering itself to part of the population; it should be something that the whole population within Newham benefits from.

  1488. My Lord, if I can turn, then, to the approach that Crossrail has taken in respect of its approach towards the two stations we are dealing with today, what I say is this: Crossrail has been inconsistent in its approach towards whether it is going to upgrade stations. It said, originally, that it would upgrade a station if it were reasonably practicable. Subsequent to that, it laid down a set of criteria far more stringent than the criterion of reasonable practicability, which was quite obviously an engineering practicability issue, as we went through with Dr Maynard yesterday. They stepped back from that and imposed a number of criteria in order to reach the conclusion that they have.

  1489. My Lord, in terms of those criteria, the way in which Crossrail have applied them needs to be carefully considered. Crossrail did not undertake any cost-benefit analysis. Could they have undertaken an adequate cost-benefit analysis? What Ms Lieven submitted to you was: "Well, Dr Maynard said yesterday that it is always going to end up with a negative decision". That is not, actually, reflecting what Mr Berryman said today, which was that yes, one could have been undertaken; a GOMMS Study could have been undertaken—a multi-modal study—or a New Approach to Transport Appraisal Study (the NATA approach). Both of those could have been undertaken and they could have been adjusted to reach adequate conclusions which reflected the importance of disability upgrading generally. So it could have been done and it was not done.

  1490. What you heard was a wholly inadequate explanation as to why it was that these two decisions had been reached and the basis upon which they had been reached. There were no particular benchmarks; it was all just a matter (from what Mr Berryman was saying) of subjective judgment; there was no way to understand the relative importance given to any particular station, save for two criteria (which I will come back to): one, generally, how many people were going to be accessing it over a three-hour period, and, two, how much was it going to cost? That substance was the way in which it was done. Then just a simple judgment: should it or should it not?

  1491. What I suggest to your Lordships is that that is a wholly inadequate basis on which to approach it when you were dealing with it in the policy context that I referred to earlier on. Nor, in reaching that subjective judgment, did they ask for any advice or information on those specific issues from an inclusivity adviser. You would have thought that Dr Maynard would have been one of the first people that should have been approached in advising as to whether or not there should be upgrading in this case—as to where the balance truly lay of importance against cost.

  1492. My Lord, if I can go on to the application of those various criteria, there were (at least on the Information Paper) four criteria identified. The incidence of disability was, in fact, a criterion, as was acknowledged by Mr Berryman, in addition to accessibility to the station, costs, etc, which we will come on to. Looking at the incidence of disability in the locality, was there actually any detail given in this Committee, despite that being a particular and specific criteria? Was anything given by Crossrail? Answer: no. What we got was how difficult it was to actually produce any information on that issue. (I say there was not anything but what we did get was the information today.) I will come on to the way in which that was used in a moment. I suggest, in those circumstances, that not a great deal of weight can be placed on the detail of the analysis, the rigorousness of the analysis, that was undertaken by Crossrail.

  1493. My Lord, if I can just look at the question of what we put forward, we indicated evidence of the incidence of disability based upon the mobility allowance. Ms Lieven says that, frankly, was going to assist absolutely no one because it just did not take into account the mobility restricted generally. Mr Berryman acknowledged that it was something that was useful—you heard that in evidence today. The reason it was useful is because it was showing the incidence of disability in the two wards in comparison to the situation at Forest Gate. Again, I will return to Forest Gate, but it shows that there was a comparable position in respect of Forest Gate and comparable to London there was a higher incidence of disability. Even if you say: "It does not take into account all those who are disabled or mobility restricted", what it did do was, at least, give an indication of people who were within that group and how many were there within those wards or boroughs. That is a useful indicator, I suggest to your Lordships.

  1494. The way in which we discovered from Mr Berryman that 4.4 per cent was used as an incidence of disability was just to apply it blanket to every station when reaching their judgment as to whether to upgrade. In that case it was, despite being a specific criterion, completely neutral because it was an equivalent figure used at every single location, irrespective of actually what the reality of it was. Despite that not actually reflecting the nature of the criterion that they said that they used, nevertheless, the way in which they did use it was, I suggest, of no real use at all.

  1495. If I can then turn to the numbers of people who were predicted by Crossrail as accessing the particular stations, Crossrail, of course, produced their predicted numbers, which are in fact on the overhead projectors now. My Lord, what that shows, if one was looking at it in the context, say, of Manor Park, is that there should be an upgrading, subject to cost—again, a matter agreed by Mr Berryman. It should be because, of course, those with fewer people accessing those stations are to be upgraded.

  1496. In terms of Maryland, we see there that it is at some 2,000. Your Lordships will no doubt pay close attention to the fact that West Ealing and Acton mainline, with only a few more accessing those particular stations, are nevertheless to be upgraded. My Lord, on the basis of the incidence of the people who are likely to be accessing those stations, I suggest that it indicates plainly a conclusion that there should be upgrading, subject, as I say, to the question of costs.

  1497. I should point out, though, that if we are right, and aside from simply taking 4.4 per cent of these total figures (which is the way in which Crossrail have done it), actually what you apply is a recognition of the greater number of disabled within those wards surrounding the two stations, and that would be a still greater indicator that one should be undertaking the upgrading.

  1498. If I can just deal with a point as an aside on that issue which concerns what these figures are showing, they are peak-hour figures, not off-peak figures. As Viscount Colville pointed out, these are peak figures, they are not off-peak, but your Lordships will recall that no figures at all were put forward by Crossrail as to what the position would be in the off-peak. One can only, therefore, assume that it was not a factor that played any particular role in the decision-making process, so it should not be counted in favour of one particular station than another, whatever the figure might be, and, in any event, we have no detail as to what that is, so it does come down to what these figures say.

  1499. My Lords, I would just touch on another point which is something that Ms Lieven raised, namely that you cannot just keep throwing money at things all the time, that cumulatively the cost goes up and that renders eventually this project unaffordable. My Lords, that is a point that you may hear time and again, but of course it is a point being raised as a defence on the part of Crossrail again and again, and they should not be entitled to do it. What they should be held to is the decision-making process that they said they undertook, namely a decision-making process on the basis of the criteria that were set out in Information Paper E5. If those are not met, then these stations should be upgraded. My Lord, I will come on to the question of costs shortly. When looking at it overall, I will be suggesting to your Lordships that it is quite plain that the criteria indicate that there should be upgrading.

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