Supplementary memorandum by South West
Transport Network (RI 18A)
Further comment has been invited, following
our submission of 23 June, in the light of what has happened during
The latest "happening" is the horrifying
derailment at Hatfield. Obviously everyone will expect safetyincluding
high quality track maintenance especially on high-speed main linesto
have absolute priority. That, and improved signalling and automatic
train safety, can be expected to absorb much Railtrack investment,
leaving less for new, improved and re-opened lines and inclination
to aim at developments with good pay-off, like land sales and
shopping at main stations.
The ten-year public spending plan is welcome,
but there is suspicion that it is too much weighted towards publicly
funded roads, while expecting more than the "market"
can expect from private investment in rail. Is SRA adequately
We wonder. An immediate example is the Waterloo-Exeter
main line. In past BR (Government imposed) cuts it was single
tracked. To provide the kind of services needed, and an alternative
main line to Great Western, it needs duplicating. But "bush
telegraph" indicates that Treasury influence may be encouraging
sSRA to lean towards accepting 18 miles of double tracking rather
than the 80 miles needed. It leans towards their "Wessex"
concept rather than the major east-west thrust with InterCity
services between Waterloo and Cornwall which Regional development
and local economies need. We warned of this in our submission
of 23 June. "Much depends on commitment to invest" we
said "and by whom". WelshRail having now been established,
we now are saying that London & South West Rail is what is
Our submission also mentioned "SWARMMS",
a South West Government Office exercise for a "London to
South West and South Multi-Modal Study" based on the Government's
commitment "to having a fully integrated transport system"
and will "consider all types of transport and how they relate
to each other". This is now going on, conducted by Halcrow
with widespread consultation. It would be a great mistake to have
in place a long-term franchise which was prejudicial to the emerging
outcome of this study. The sSRA "Wessex" concept, about
which their revised 12 October Press Notice says "full details
are expected to be announced next month", has implications
which threaten to cause this mistake.
It also threatens potential development of a
Greater Bristol Metro, a concept set out in our submission to
the Committee about The Proposed Urban White Paper (HC 185-11
page 43), and referred to in evidence submitted to the Sub-committee
by Railtrack's Project Development Manager about Light Rapid Transit
Systems (HC153 page 199). A very urgent need, affecting both the
national rail network and potential local development, is quadrupling
the lines between Filton Junction and Lawrence Hill. Railtrack
evidence said: "If progressed, the system would represent
the first significant application of the "Karlsruhe method"
in Britain whereby street-running LRT vehicles shared heavy rail
routes to practical and economic advantage." We added "progress
requires commitment, action and above all investment, in both
heavy and light rail". There is not yet sign of this being
forthcoming. Much depends on who gets the South West franchise,
and on what terms. We are not persuaded that SRA's present ideas
are fully lined up with Government objectives.
Our 23 June submission also made the point that
the four different local authorities comprising the Bristol conurbation
needed an organisation like those provided by PTEs. In the PTE
areas separate management units are being created within the franchises.
Something like this is needed in Bristol, the major City conurbation
which missed out when PTEs were created. It ought to develop a
Greater Bristol Metro, using existing tracks along with the LRT,
to ease congestion and also to offer the opportunity for the needed
housing development to take place within, as we have suggested,
a kilometre or so of existing or potential stations on the Metro
Co-ordination is also needed with commercial
development. The former English Partnership, now taken over by
the Regional Development Agency, have developed a major office
complex alongside Temple Meads Station. But there is no reasonable
connection with the station. It is an unpleasant convoluted walk.
Now an agreement has been reached between the City Council and
developers to produce a "New-look Broadmead". An excellent
notion. But lacking in the pronouncements, which we have highlighted
during consultation, is the need for access to rail.
Walk from Temple Meads to Broadmead is now about
1.3km down a slope, across many heavily trafficked roads, all
very unpleasant. Yet "as-the-crow-flies" from Platforms
1 & 3 it's about 700 metres. A pleasant walk could be created
alongside and over the "floating harbour". But who would
fund it? There needs to be co-ordination between the (much needed)
development of Temple Meads Station, the £500m facelift for
Broadmead now proposed by financial backers, and what has to be
The LRT "Tramlink" which Bristol City
and South Gloucestershire Councils see as their top priority (finding
difficulty in dealing with a fragmented rail industry) arose from
an extensive housing development at Bradley Stoke which was entirely
road oriented, near to junctions with M4 and M5. Much money was
made by the developers. Then it was left to the local authorities
to grasp the inevitable traffic problems. Even more £ms were
made from the "out-of-town" Cribbs Causeway shopping
development, and the intensive office developments (including
for MoD) near Bristol Parkway (but without appropriate train services
and local connections). All this now has to be resolved by co-ordinated
transport arrangements (overcoming the congestion that has accumulated).
The Sub-committee might consider how this might best be achieved.
Something like a PTE?
Much past development around urban centres (London
in particular) was brought about by developing rail lines, the
entrepreneurs making £ms from the surrounding land development,
which paid for the lines. Can something of the sort be brought
about for the kind of development needed in and around Bristol?
And can we look forward to a rail franchise
which will enhance development of the whole of the South West,
extending into Cornwall? "Wessex" points to achievement
of neither of these desirable objectives.