Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 560 - 565)

WEDNESDAY 31 OCTOBER 2001

MR CHRISTOPHER GARNETT AND MR CHRIS GREEN

Chairman

  560. Do you believe in a nationalised railway, Mr Green?
  (Mr Green) I do not think we should be getting back all the way.

Mr Donohoe

  561. May I ask, if I may, in terms of the travelling public and the perception of the services that you are offering, they are not all that good as it stands just now, and the idea was mentioned earlier about the ten-year plan and £34 billion of private money. What is your estimation of how much money will be brought into the industry over the next ten years?
  (Mr Green) What Sir Alastair Morton said, I believe here, is that the industry needs £30 billion for the current maintenance and operations. That sounds the minimum that is needed and he estimated another £34 billion for enhancement. I would have thought he is the expert in this area and he is the only person who sees the whole picture.

Chairman

  562. Should there be a reallocation of responsibilities between the Strategic Rail Authority and the Rail Regulator?
  (Mr Garnett) I think it is vitally important that we keep a financial regulator of Railtrack because that guarantees that it gets its funding and we do not go back to the stop go, stop go, the money being there, the money not being there. Simply to maintain and operate the railway (and not getting into infrastructure investment) we do need to keep an independent financial regulator. We have got, though, to get a much better working relationship between the financial regulator and the SRA.

  563. So who decides on things like track access charges?
  (Mr Garnett) The economic regulator of Railtrack who makes sure that they have the money to maintain and deliver us a safe and reliable network. That is what we are contracted for.

  564. I think, gentlemen, you have been very patient and I really want to let you escape. Midland Main Line has been cited as an example of a successful short-term franchise. How typical are the circumstances under which that extension was granted?
  (Mr Green) Midland Main Line, as I understand it, did not need major infrastructure renewal.

  565. So we are not talking, when we talk about what happened there, of an example that could be easily translated elsewhere?
  (Mr Green) I do not think so.
  (Mr Garnett) The two fundamental differences is that their franchise runs out in 2006 and it has been extended to 2008 so they have got a six-year planning horizon, and we have got a three-year planning horizon. To keep quoting Midland Main Line, as the Government have been doing, saying this is a good example, is misleading because it is a unique example. 20 of the TOCs' franchises collapse in the next two years. We are all facing a big issue about what happens and that must be addressed.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed, gentlemen, you have been very helpful.





 
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