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


Memorandum by London Borough of Croydon (PRF 25)

PASSENGER RAIL FRANCHISING

  The Council is growing increasingly frustrated with the existing rail franchising process, the length of time being taken to refranchise services in this area (Thameslink and South Central), and the lack of any clear timetable to improve the network.

  You may be aware of the particular long-running capacity constraints at Windmill Bridge Croydon and at Gatwick Airport which prevent service improvements on the Brighton mainline, of constraints on the West London Line and around Acton which prevent improvement to Cross-County Services, and of poor interchange facilities at Clapham Junction. The Council has been seeking in vain improved links with the rest of the country and with Eurostar services. Even now the South Central franchise has changed hands we still have no commitment to a timetable of improvements, partly it seems because of commercial confidentiality between Govia and Railtrack. We are now facing the perverse situation of Cross-Country services being curtailed through Croydon because of constraints imposed by Railtrack and there being no safeguard in the Cross-Country franchise or Passenger Service Requirement (PSR) to prevent Virgin Trains switching services away from Croydon to their route through Guildford. Within London there has been considerable frustration over delays to the progress of the Thameslink 2000 and the East London Line Extension projects. Whilst at the time of writing there appears to be greater optimism about taking the latter forward, the budget necessary to do so quickly is still not assured.

  The Council therefore supports the sentiment of the Government's Draft Policy Statement to "deliver quick results in the short term as well as to plan for the longer term", but we are fearful that this may result in the delaying of major infrastructure improvements indefinitely at the expense of some "quick wins". The implications of all the delays to major works are that there are insufficient sums allocated to rail investment. If this is the case, then the Draft Policy Statement does not address the basic problem. If the private sector is unwilling to finance these major upgrades, then the Government should use its own resources to assist schemes, and take a share in the revenue generated from them.

  I would be grateful if the Committee would consider the Council's concerns during its investigations. If any further information is required, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Iain Sim

Assistant Director, Policy and Implementation

September 2001


 
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