Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 9060 - 9079)

  9060. And we see agreement all the way through. If we go to the second page, 003, we get to the clauses where the provisional decision on the capacity issues were considered, 26-29, and we see there: "We understand the reasons for ORR's decision not to specify infrastructure. Freightliner considered the specification of the outputs from the provision of infrastructure to be a vital tool in terms of ensuring that acts of omission from Crossrail's infrastructure should not cause other operators' rights to be subsumed as a result. In the presence of the specific objective capacity and performance tests, and the proposed changes to the change control mechanism in paragraph 35, we consider that ORR's decision not to specify infrastructure to be acceptable."

  9061. So you specifically wrote saying you were in complete agreement with the ORR's decision to specify the objective test based on outputs, and not to specify infrastructure?

   (Ms Durham): You showed this exhibit earlier, so we have seen it before. We did say that and we felt that the Regulator has done as much as he could in his role of allocating capacity, and it was acceptable. However, we are still concerned that there will later on be a lot of political pressure on this scheme, and we seek further comfort that some of the schemes, not all, will be committed to. These are not detailed technical specifications: they are outline.

  9062. I am sorry, Ms Durham, but have I missed something? You went out of your way to write to the ORR not only not to disagree with but to positively support the ORR's decision not to specify infrastructure but to specify output. What has changed since 16 March to cause you to come before this Committee and say the precise opposite—that you want, despite having your endorsement of the ORR's decision, that infrastructure to be specified?

   (Ms Durham): You have not missed anything; we clearly said that. Our view was that the Regulator had gone as far as he could go, and we considered that it was up to the Committee to decide whether this is an appropriate way to deal with.

  9063. Is it your case to this Committee that in exercising his power to direct the terms of the access agreement it was beyond the powers of the Rail Regulator to require the infrastructure improvements to be carried out?

   (Ms Durham): I did not say it was beyond his powers but I do not think he saw it was appropriate in this case for him to do this.

  9064. So the ORR made a decision—I am sorry, I do not mean to interrupt.

   (Ms Durham) What I was going to say is that obviously there are two parallel processes, the access option process, which we do fully support, and there is the Crossrail Bill process as well and obviously that must have a purpose and we see one of the purposes of that is that the Committee should consider whether it is appropriate that Crossrail make certain commitments.

  9065. Since 16 March, nothing has changed as regards certainty or uncertainty, has it?

   (Ms Durham) No, it has not, but I have explained my position twice now and it is the same.

  9066. Well, it still is as clear as mud, I am afraid, as far as I am concerned and I will come back to it in a moment. So nothing has changed about certainty or uncertainty. The only thing that has changed is that the Minister has made a public announcement of his intention to seek an amendment to the Bill to remove the rail powers. That has now been confirmed.

   (Ms Durham) Yes, which we welcome.

  9067. So that has been a change in favour of your position. There have been no further iterations of the modelling work or anything of that description? Is that right?

   (Ms Durham) That is correct.

  9068. There have been no further changes with regard to the proposed infrastructure works and nothing further has been designed since 16 March?

   (Ms Durham) That is correct also.

  9069. And it remained open to the ORR to require, as one of the terms, that these works that you now ask the Committee to impose, that they should have been imposed as part of the access option?

   (Ms Durham) Yes. As I say, we did not really feel that the Regulator was the place for that decision to be made.

  9070. Well, now is your chance to tell the Committee why, given that the ORR had the full power, having heard all of the representatives of industry, not just those petitioning this House, with all that information which is also not available to this House, why you chose not to ask the ORR to impose the infrastructure, but you now ask the House of Lords to do so. What is the reason?

   (Ms Durham) Because we really saw this as a planning requirement rather than a regulatory requirement.

  9071. That is your best answer, is it?

   (Ms Durham) Yes.

  9072. So you are not aware of the situation where, on a planning inquiry, you have two parallel processes and, as a matter of planning policy, if you have got another consents process, the planning decision-maker will say, "Well, that's not really a matter for me. That's for the other decision-maker"? That is a national policy, is it not? Planning will not regulate something which is elsewhere regulated, for example, environmental licensing, waste licensing, things like that.

   (Ms Durham) I have to say that I am not an expert on planning, I am an expert on rail freight.

  9073. You are not an expert on planning, so the view you tendered earlier was not based on any detailed knowledge of how planning operates?

   (Ms Durham) No.

  9074. But that is your reason for asking this Committee to take a different view?

   (Ms Durham) Well, I believe that it is up to the Committee to decide whether it is their role to decide.

  9075. I appreciate that. I am just trying to understand why you say one thing to the Rail Regulator and the entirely opposite thing to the Committee. However, I do not think I am going to help the Committee by exploring that issue any further and I think we have got as far as we are going to get on that. Can we go back to your Exhibit 29 please. This is what your needs are. You say you have certain needs. So far as those last two bullet points, those works, are concerned, Barking to Gospel Oak is already under way.

   (Ms Durham) That is correct, yes.

  9076. Felixstowe to Nuneaton, that is funded under TIF outside of Crossrail, is it not?

   (Ms Durham) It is partially funded under that.

  9077. And, as I understand it, Network Rail's view is that that should be under way by 2012. Is that right?

   (Ms Durham) We are not asking for additional funding here. All we are asking is for the Committee to recommend to the Government that those works are finished before the Crossrail works are started.

  9078. So your expectation is to ask the Committee to make a recommendation on something which lies outside the Bill, to get on with those works which are Network Rail's responsibility before Crossrail is started and even though Crossrail does not come on line until 2017?

   (Ms Durham) Yes, that is right because it is very important for the UK economy and for businesses that we can keep freight moving, and that is why we are recommending it. Otherwise, there is a risk that we will not be able to continue to supply shops, and we are moving goods like clothes and foodstuffs for shops that people buy every day, so it is very important that there is a consistent supply. Otherwise, it affects the economy.

  9079. Indeed all of the rail industry, both passenger and freight, affects the economy.

   (Ms Durham) Correct.



 
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