Brexit: road, rail and maritime transport Contents

Chapter 9: Cross-modal matters

Government engagement and preparations

233.We questioned most of our witnesses about their experiences of DfT engagement on Brexit matters. Many witnesses described, in the words of Mr Thomas, “strong engagement” with DfT.283 Mr Buchanan said: “Its door has always been open and it has listened to what we have had to say.”284 These views were echoed by Mr Salmon: “The person I mostly deal with [in DfT] is beyond reproach in the sense of his willingness to talk through issues as they arise and explain what he can and cannot do.”285 In contrast, Mr Testa highlighted frustrations that “parts of the decisions that affect transport are cross-government”.286 Mr Salmon gave the example of the right to work for bus and coach drivers as a significant matter not within DfT’s purview.287

234.Mr Hampton discussed his interactions with the devolved administrations: “Of course, in some respects they follow the UK Government, but … they have devolved responsibilities, so we are keen to keep a close relationship with them, as we have been looking to make further investment in Welsh ports.”288 Mr Simmonds spoke of “good relations and regular dialogue” with the devolved administrations, but shared the view that “they are following the UK Government … not making their own dialogue”.289

235.When we asked Clive Mills, LLP Designated Member of Euro2Go, whether Government messaging was filtering down to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), he expressed frustration that “nothing is being laid down in stone for us to move forward”. His impression, at a time when the UK’s exit from the EU was expected to take place on 29 March, was: “Come March, [the Government] are just hoping something happens, and that we muddle our way through it.”290

The Government’s position

236.While we did not ask the Government for specific details of their stakeholder engagement efforts, it confirmed that it was “working closely both with … arms-length bodies, and the devolved administrations”, and that its ‘no deal’ technical notices would be supplemented “by a strong programme of engagement with transport stakeholders”.291

237.We commend DfT’s high level of engagement, as reported by industry stakeholder groups. However, we call on the Government to strengthen its communication with small and medium sized businesses in the sector. We also encourage DfT to improve the flow of information about relevant matters outside its remit to stakeholders in the transport sector.

Passenger rights

238.The Consumer Council told us that the most frequent area of complaint arising from transport services related to “services that are delayed or cancelled”, and tended “to arise where passengers have not been given the required level of protection or redress”.292 Mr Thomas observed that in the area of passenger rights the UK was “a bit of a trailblazer”.293 For example, RDG explained that “National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT) and operator specific conditions are comprehensive and currently exceed the requirements of EU regulations”.294

239.The Consumer Council was categorical that any future UK-EU transport agreement must ensure that “UK passengers continue to have the same level of protection as their EU counterparts” post-Brexit. It added that its concern was not over passenger rights on “day one of Brexit”, but “whether UK passenger rights will keep pace with EU counterparts post Brexit”.295

240.RDG saw “some (limited) opportunities to simplify the [EU] regime”.296 Bus Users UK agreed that some aspects of the 2013 European Passenger Rights Regulation were “over-complicated and onerous”, particularly for domestic services. Specifically, they felt it was not practical “to impose the more extensive requirements intended to support and protect the rights of passengers, particularly those with disabilities, travelling long distances”, to “services carrying people for a few miles”. Bus Users UK saw an opportunity to simplify “some of the more convoluted aspects of this Regulation in due course”.297

241.In the view of RDG, the continuation of a harmonised regime for passenger rights was “potentially helpful for international services by establishing a coherent framework between markets”.298 Highlighting the importance of passenger trust and confidence, Eurostar told us they would “continue to respect the requirements of EU passenger rights regulations”.299

The Government’s position

242.The Government generally reiterated that Brexit presented opportunities for the UK to tailor legislation “in a way that works for our circumstances”, for all modes of transport.

243.For maritime services, it highlighted the practical restriction that “the majority of ferries leaving the UK are bound for the EU, and as such will remain subject to EU rules post exit”. The Government confirmed that no changes were envisaged “at present” to UK alignment with EU rules on maritime passenger rights.300

244.The Government also reflected the view of our witnesses that “the UK has comprehensive domestic protections” for rail passengers, protections that in many respects “go beyond the current EU minimum standards”. On bus and coach services, the Government emphasised its commitment to ensuring that “disabled people should be able to travel easily, confidently and at no additional cost”, and to reviewing “the efficacy of all passenger rights legislation” accordingly.301

245.The UK has robust arrangements for transport passenger rights that are independent of its membership of the EU, and in some cases exceed those provided by EU law. We conclude that Brexit may present opportunities to simplify some EU measures on passenger rights in a manner that would better suit UK conditions. This should not entail any reduction in the rights of UK passengers compared to EU passengers. We further note the advantages of congruence of passenger rights on international services.

Infrastructure funding

246.The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a key EU funding instrument for targeted infrastructure development. It supports the development of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T), Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E) and digital services.302 The TEN-T programme is intended to close gaps in the EU’s transport networks, remove bottlenecks and improve interoperability.303

247.The UK currently hosts one of the nine TEN-T Core Network ‘corridors’—the North Sea-Mediterranean (NSM) corridor. The NSM corridor stretches from Belfast to the Irish ports of Cork and Dublin, as well as from Glasgow and Edinburgh through to the French southern ports of Fos/Marseilles. It covers rail, road, airports, ports and rail-road terminals. It is possible for third countries to receive TEN-T funding where this “is indispensable to the achievement of the objectives of a given project of common interest”.304 Switzerland, Norway and Turkey currently host TEN-T routes.

248.On 27 March 2019, the EU published legislation to realign the corridor away from the UK, which is intended to take effect once relevant EU provisions “[cease] to apply to the United Kingdom”.305 The draft legislation did not provoke strong reactions among our witnesses. FTA said it would be “useful” for the UK to remain part of the NSM,306 whereas RDG thought that, while continued membership was not “operationally essential in the future”, participation would have some benefits, such as “the promotion of international rail freight”.307

249.Notably, Translink highlighted that EU funding for transport projects did not derive exclusively from the CEF. It gave the example of “a new £27 million multi-modal transport hub in Derry/Londonderry”, which it described as “hugely significant” for the region, as well as “serving a wide rural and cross-border hinterland”. Translink told us: “The majority of funding for this scheme (€20 million) comes from the EU through the European Regional Development Fund.”308

250.We note that the Government has committed to underwriting the UK’s full allocation for structural and investment fund projects, such as funding secured through the European Regional Development Fund,309 until the end of 2020,310 and that it is consulting on plans for a successor arrangement to EU funds—the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.311

The Government’s position

251.The Government told us the “UK is currently involved in 50 CEF-funded projects with a value of over €350 million”, but that there was “no commitment from the EU to fund specific projects from one programming period to the next”. It highlighted an imbalance between the UK’s receipt of 3% of the total CEF budget for transport, compared to the UK’s overall contribution of “13% to the budget” and concluded that the UK would “need to consider the merits of any continued involvement in the CEF programme” after Brexit.312

252.Mr Grayling accepted that the EU “does not intend to continue to include the United Kingdom as part of [the NSM]” corridor, but felt that this would not “[make] a lot of difference to anything”.313

253.We received no evidence to suggest that arrangements to re-route the North Sea Mediterranean Ten-T corridor would have a significant impact on the UK. We further note that the UK has received a lower proportion of funding for CEF transport projects compared to its budget contributions.

254.EU support for UK transport infrastructure also arises from Structural and Investment funds. We acknowledge the Government’s commitment to underwriting the UK’s allocation for Structural and Investment funds until the end of 2020, and look forward to details of how the planned successor arrangement, the Shared Prosperity Fund, will be used to develop transport infrastructure.

283 10 (John Thomas)

284 Q 39 (Duncan Buchanan)

285 47 (Steven Salmon)

286 Q 10 (Damian Testa)

287 47 (Steven Salmon)

288 Q 29 (Ian Hampton)

289 29 (Gavin Simmonds)

290 Q 39 (Clive Mills)

291 Written evidence from the Department for Transport (TRA0012)

292 Written evidence from The Consumer Council (TRA0014)

293 Q 20 (John Thomas)

294 Written evidence from Rail Delivery Group (TRA0007)

295 Written evidence from The Consumer Council (TRA0014)

296 Written evidence from Rail Delivery Group (TRA0007)

297 Written evidence from Bus Users UK (TRA0009)

298 Written evidence from Rail Delivery Group (TRA0007)

299 Written evidence from Eurostar International Ltd (TRA0003)

300 Written evidence from the Department for Transport (TRA0012)

301 Written evidence from the Department for Transport (TRA0012)

302 European Commission, ‘Connecting Europe Facility’: [accessed 18 December 2018]

303 European Commission, ‘About TEN-T’: [accessed 18 December 2018]

304 Article 9(4), Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Connecting Europe Facility, amending Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 680/2007 and (EC) No 67/2010, OJ L 348/129 (20 December 2013)

305 Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2019 amending Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 with regard to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union, OJ L 85/16 (27 March 2019)

306 Written evidence from the Freight Transport Association (TRA0017)

307 Written evidence from Rail Delivery Group (TRA0007)

308 Written evidence from Translink (TRA0020)

309 European Structural and Investment Funds are financial mechanisms to support economic development across all EU countries. The European Regional Development Fund is one type of European Structural and Investment Fund.

310 HM Government, ‘Funding from EU programmes guaranteed until the end of 2020’ (24 July 2018): [accessed 18 December 2018]

311 In July 2018 James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, made a Written Statement in the House of Commons setting out more details about the Fund. See HC Deb, 24 July 2018, col 927WS

312 Written evidence from the Department for Transport (TRA0012)

313 Q 63 (Chris Grayling MP)

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