Examination of Witnesses (Questions 680
WEDNESDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2001
680. Could you just respond to the question?
I think it was GNER poaching drivers who had actually been trained
by Arriva but is your ten-year plan going to take into consideration
that it takes a year to train drivers and that there is not necessarily
the market out there for all the drivers that are required?
(Mr Jenner) Very much so. It is perfectly natural
for drivers to prefer driving big red shiny trains or big blue
shiny trains. That means that certain train operating companies
have to serve in effect as a driver training academy. We recognise
that and we are going to make sure those companies themselves
recognise that. There has to be a supply of drivers going through
681. How reliable will the services be in the
future, having regard to what we have suffered in the past with
(Mr Jenner) The aim of the order is very much to restore
all the services which have now been taken out. So that there
is absolute certainty that those services will run.
682. Have you had assurances on that?
(Mr Jenner) That is the purpose of the order.
683. May we be quite sure we are talking about
the same thing? Are you saying that a substitute service which
consists of a bus service is a robust service and you are just
making sure that will be available? Or are you saying that it
is your intention to make sure there is a train service? Forgive
me, but it is important we know what we are talking about?
(Mr Jenner) What we are trying to do is to ensure
that for the vast majority of passengers there is a train service.
Chairman: The "vast majority", not
684. Not those between Thirsk and Newcastle.
(Mr Jenner) We have to recognise that Arriva are 100
drivers short of establishment. That means that if no action is
taken, trains are cancelled on a completely random basis. Every
passenger then is uncertain as to whether any particular service
is going to run. What we have tried to do with Arriva is to ensure
that most of the services are provided by trains and they are
guaranteed to run because the number of trains run equals the
number of drivers they have already at the moment. Secondly, for
the services which cannot be covered by trains, there are buses.
Passengers do at least know that a robust service is being provided
in one form or another.
(Mr Grant) At the end of the day our ultimate aim
is to make sure Arriva have enough drivers to provide the full
685. In other words you would like a rail service
to be a rail service not a bus service.
(Mr Grant) Absolutely.
(Mr Jenner) Absolutely.
686. Back to the strategic plan. Is it true
that when the plan is published it will be predicated on the existing
resources which have been announced in the ten-year plan, that
is £30 billion available to the SRA?
(Mr Jenner) We have had a number of discussions with
the Department and the Treasury . We have looked at the resources.
Those discussions are still ongoing, but yes, ultimately we shall
be looking at the £30 billion of public money plus the £34
billion private money.
687. Sir Alastair Morton has described that
situation as being far too restrictive for the ten-year plan objective
to be delivered. He has described the present funding proposals
as wrongly structured and inadequate. Do you agree with that?
(Mr Grant) What we have been asked to do is to produce
a strategic plan to address 50 per cent growth in passengers,
80 per cent growth in freight and overcrowding within the resources
available to us.
688. I understand that.
(Mr Grant) The plan will provide a number of options,
a range, and one of those ranges will say that we can achieve
the ten-year plan.
689. I presume Sir Alastair has been heavily
involved in the production of the strategic plan.
(Mr Grant) No, Sir Alastair has not been involved
at all in the strategic plan.
690. Not at all? Yet he has said that the strategic
plan will not meet the country's needs as it will be restricted
in the way I described to you. What I am trying to get at is whether
you agreed with that analysis, whether Sir Alastair has been involved
(Mr Grant) I said that under certain scenarios and
a number of major assumptions we can achieve the ten-year plan.
691. You say you are in discussion with the
Treasury on the resource issue. What is the purpose of those discussions?
Is it to relieve any possible restriction due to the £30
billion or is it to work within that?
(Mr Grant) It is to make the case for how we can achieve
the ten-year plan, to make sure the phasing of the funding is
right, to decide how we are going to treat the additional £1.5
billion allocated to Railtrack. We are looking at the funding,
we are looking at the phasing of the funding and we are also looking
at the outputs.
692. Does your discussion with the Treasury
in any way, shape or form involve the possibility of more resources
being argued for over the ten-year period?
(Mr Grant) The Department and the SRA will want to
put forward cases within the next spending round for why we should
have more money for rail.
693. How much more would that money be? Can
you quantify it?
(Mr Grant) I cannot quantify it.
694. You cannot quantify it. Three billion,
five billion, ten billion.
(Mr Grant) Thirty billion has been allocated in the
695. But you are looking for more.
(Mr Grant) No. We shall want to be in a position as
franchising and projects go forward to be making a case for rail,
when money becomes available, so that we can use it to improve
the rail services.
696. I want to be clear on this. Forgive me
for pressing you. You know the purpose of my question and I am
seeking to identify if possible whether the SRA in your discussions
with the Treasury is looking for more money than that already
allocated under the ten-year plan.
(Mr Grant) We produced the strategic plan on the basis
of the money allocated. We will always be making a case to try
to get more money for railways.
697. I still do not know whether that is a yes
or a no. How will infrastructure enhancement projects be taken
forward whilst Railtrack remains in administration, which could
be three months, six months, it could be longer.
(Mr Grant) I can give you an example which is on the
East Coast Main Line. Post 1 April, when Railtrack decided they
would no longer take forward enhancements, we have an agreement
with Railtrack to take forward the East Coast Main Line which
we are paying for directly. That continues in administration through
Railtrack with the administrator.
698. Which SRA is paying for directly.
(Mr Grant) SRA is paying.
699. In total?
(Mr Grant) In total.