Memorandum by the Department of the Environment,
Transport and the Regions (RI 23)
This memorandum sets out the response of the
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to the
Transport Sub-committee's request of 9 June for information relating
to the maintenance, renewal and enhancement of the national rail
network. It addresses those matters which the Sub-committee has
indicated it intends to consider prior to the summer recess. The
Department understands that the Sub-committee will request a further
memorandum during the summer.
At the National Rail Summit in May, the Deputy
Prime Minister highlighted investment as the key to ensuring a
safe, modern and efficient railway and to winning more passengers
and freight on to it. The Government is committed to working closely
with the Office of the Rail Regulator, the shadow Strategic Rail
Authority, Railtrack and train operators, to rebuild public confidence
in the railway through improved performance and service, and to
implement a strategy to create a system where today's highest
standards are tomorrow's norm, encouraging more people to use
rail from choice. The Government's vision is of a virtuous circle
of growth, rising revenue, more investment and further growth.
Under the structure of the privatised railway
industry enshrined in the Railways Act 1993, Railtrack has sole
responsibility for the procurement and delivery of investment
in the national rail network. In successive Network Management
Statements, in annual reports, and more recently in exchanges
with the Rail Regulator in the context of the periodic review,
Railtrack has set out its investment expenditure since privatisation.
The picture is one of successive increases from less than £1
billion in 1986-87 to over £2 billion (including CTRL) in
1999-2000, as shown in Figure 1 below:
But the Government believes increased investment
will be required in the future to meet growing demand, and to
meet the needs and expectations of the public and the industry.
These increasing investment levels have been
against a backdrop of diminishing public sector support, as shown
in Figure 2 below. The Government's Ten Year Plan for Transport
will set out a vision where increased levels of public subsidy
will help lever-in additional private investment.
Figure 2: Government subsidy 1986-87 to
1999-2000 at 1999-2000 prices
Figure 3 below shows that safety on the railways,
in terms of significant train accidents per million train miles
run, has improved significantly since the mid-1980s. The Government
will continue to work with the industry to ensure this trend continues.
The Railways Act 1993 established the Office
of the Rail Regulator as the body responsible for protecting the
interests of rail users, promoting the use and development of
the railway, and promoting efficiency, economy and competition.
The Rail Regulator is appointed by the Secretary of State but
is independent. Last year the Government appointed Tom Winsor
as the Rail Regulator, and the Government looks to him to ensure
that Railtrack delivers on its licence requirements and investment
The Department understands that the Sub-committee
has requested a memorandum from the Regulator, and will be taking
oral evidence from him. It is for the Regulator to give evidence
on the past performance of Railtrack and the role of his own office
in overseeing that performance.