Examination of Witnesses (Questions 315-319)|
WEDNESDAY 24 OCTOBER 2001
315. Gentlemen, I apologise for keeping you
waiting. You have been extremely patient. Would you like to tell
us your names?
(Mr Francis) Madam Chairman, I am Stewart
Francis, the Chairman of the Rail Passengers Council; and you
have not delayed me nearly as much as I have been delayed over
the last year, on some trains.
316. Well, I was going to say, as always, it
is the passenger who is the last, I am afraid even in our Committee.
(Mr Smith) Madam Chairman, my name is Anthony Smith.
I am the National Director of the Rail Passengers Council.
Chairman: I am going to ask Mr Bennett to kick
317. Do you really understand what the Government's
proposals are for Railtrack's successors, and, if so, do you approve
(Mr Francis) A full understanding, I am not sure if
anyone has a full understanding, because I think that probably
the statements that we have heard thus far chart a course, state
a vision, and I think that is probably the role of Government,
to do that, in other words, I think, now, that there are others
who can bring ideas in to make this work. The latter part of your
question, do we approve; yes, we do, because we think that it
is an opportunity to
318. How can you approve of something that you
do not fully understand?
(Mr Francis) In a sense, it cannot be anything worse
than what passengers have been through for the last six years;
so, on that basis, I suppose that we have got half a chance. I
think that what went wrong after privatisation is that balance
was lost, in terms of the public interest in what the railways
are actually for, not just taking passengers and freight from
A to B, but for good social and economic reasons to underpin the
development of the country's economy and social and environmental
ideals. So I think that we lost the balance. And I think what
this gives us is an opportunity to restore a proper balance between
the public and private sector.
319. And you think that the rules, if you like,
the licensing and everything else, that was there for Railtrack,
transferred to the new body is still going to be satisfactory?
(Mr Francis) I am not sure if it will all be transferred
to a new body. I think the jury is out on the question of whether
there should be a single regulator. I am not an economist, I am
here to represent passengers; my concerns would be to understand
the requirement for continued independent regulation. I and our
Council have not made up our minds on this issue, until we fully
understand what that means for passengers.