Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 8860 - 8879)

  8860. MR ELVIN: The ORR would be departing from its own decision of 14 April if it did, because the ORR has reached a decision in accordance with its provisional decision that it will not require specific infrastructure works, so it would be departing from its decision and it has to issue its directions in accordance with its decision, as your Lordships would expect.

  8861. CHAIRMAN: So it could always change its mind? It could do it, could it?

(Counsel took instructions)

  8862. MR ELVIN: I think the answer is that the whole purpose of the provisional decision followed by the final was to allow argument as to whether he should change from his provisional decision. Once his decision is made he has made that decision, and unless the situation changes he would find it difficult to seek a change in decision having made a final decision. I think there would be difficulties in terms of normal administrative law procedures if he decided that his final decision was not his final decision.

  8863. CHAIRMAN: I do not remember their saying anything about the details of the infrastructure that was to be required.

  8864. MR ELVIN: None is to be required, my Lord. What the ORR has said is that there will clearly have to be infrastructure improvements, but by specifying the standards it leaves flexible the precise infrastructure improvements that are to be carried out in due course. In other words the ORR has decided he is not going to require anything specific. To achieve the 92 per cent works will be required but he is leaving those works to be determined at a future stage, but what he is saying is you have to achieve resolution of the conflicts, you have to achieve the 92 per cent, all of which factors in the increase in capacity to be protected for rail freight paths and the like. So what he has done is he has settled on a mechanism which will require infrastructure works in due course but has not said in any inflexible way: "You must produce infrastructure works A, B and C". Infrastructure works will be required, no doubt, but it is too early a stage at the moment to say which works will be required.

  8865. No one doubts there will have to be infrastructure works in due course; all we are arguing about is whether we should be tied down to a specific list of infrastructure improvements at this stage, or whether we should have the flexibility, as the ORR thought, to make the final decision as to which infrastructure works were needed to achieve the requisite outputs, protecting the various interests which the access option will protect in due course. So we have a mechanism but that mechanism will not deliver the actual result for some time.

  8866. CHAIRMAN: The only sanction, though, presumably is, if in the event the 92 per cent is not achieved, because you have not installed the infrastructure works --

  8867. MR ELVIN: -- then we do not get access. We have a short run-in period, which is mentioned in paragraph 80 of the ORR's decision, which allows fine tweaking at the last stage to get up to the 92 per cent; there is a short run-in period when you are starting up. Once that is over, if the 92 per cent is not achieved, we do not meet the terms of the access option and we do not get access.

  8868. CHAIRMAN: That is the end of Crossrail.

  8869. MR ELVIN: That is the end of Crossrail, and you can imagine with a £16 billion Bill there is something of an incentive to ensure that we can deliver the meeting of the objective test, and one must be realistic about the implications of not delivering the relevant objective standard at the end of the day. They are very serious, and no one doubts that infrastructure will have to be required. We simply say it is ridiculous to specify it at this stage when the infrastructure is not going to have to be delivered except over a period of time once the modelling work has been complete.

  8870. As your Lordships have seen from the ORR's discussions of the hearing, modelling has to go through further iterations and it may be found there are specific works which need adjustment or works which perhaps are not needed which were in the preliminary list.

  8871. Let me make it absolutely clear, the modelling that has been carried out assumes infrastructure improvements in capacity. It is, therefore, inevitable there will be some improvements. The question is whether we have our hands tied, even though the ORR thinks we should not have our hands tied, to specific works at this stage, when the modelling is at such an early stage.

  8872. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: Has that list been published which you have used in your modelling?

  8873. MR ELVIN: Everyone knows what it is; it is the list of the works in the Bill powers. Indeed, EWS has listed six of the matters. We have given a commitment to the one item which is inevitable that will have to be required which is the Acton dive-under which Mr Berryman explained to you last week. It is also fairly inevitable that adjustments will have to be made to allow access to Heathrow airport, again for the reasons Mr Berryman explained. However, we have not committed to the precise form of that because there may be adjustments to be made in due course, and one of the ironies of the situation, as is clear from what Mr George said last week when he was asking some preliminary questions of Mr Berryman, is that even EWS, which takes the strongest line on these issues, is not saying we should do very specific things because the details are just not available yet. Flexibility is inevitable on anybody's case, so our position is a very simple one. The ORR has reached a rational and considered view based on the representations of industry; industry asks that these processes be followed in a fair and transparent way; that is what we have now delivered, we say, through the access option; no one can doubt the objective and independence of the ORR because Crossrail is being made to jump through a very large series of hoops to get its access option. It did not achieve everything it asked for; it did not get all the paths at this stage it sought; some of the offpeak paths have not been granted; and the change control mechanism is very stringent.

  8874. It is quite clear we will be held very strictly to account to the provisions which the ORR has set out in its decision, and these will deliver the necessary security that industry requires.

  8875. CHAIRMAN: It seems to me that the infrastructure improvements which are being argued about at the moment are all on the Great Western main line, and none of them on the Great Eastern.

  8876. MR ELVIN: That is right, partly because a number of improvements are already programmed. Gospel Oak to Barking, for example, is already in the tin, as you heard, I think, this morning.

  8877. LORD BERKELEY: Could I intervene very briefly? That is not the case; we have asked for one improvement on the east side.

  8878. MR ELVIN: I am sorry, I was thinking of EWS. The same principle applies whether it is east or west; the ORR was looking at the position globally.

  8879. CHAIRMAN: We will hear about that in due time.

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