Chapter 4 - Making It Happen
Commission for Integrated Transport
Strategic Rail Authority
Railways- better services, accountable to passengers
Railways-the passenger's voice
The Rail Regulator: infrastructure investment
The Rail Regulator: rolling stock leasing companies
Investment in rail
Investment in trunk roads
Aviation and airport regulation
Investment in aviation
Integrating transport and planning in the English regions
Regional transport strategies
Role of Regional Development Agencies
Integrated transport in London
Investment in London Underground
Integrated transport in London-in practice
Role of Passenger Transport Authorities
Local transport plans
Funding bus services
Reducing social exclusion
Funding major local transport schemes
Funding local rail services
Changing travel habits
Tackling congestion and pollution on local roads
Charging users on motorways and trunk roads
Non workplace parking
Sending the right signals
Cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles and fuels: fiscal incentives
Incentives for green travel
Cleaner, more efficient vehicles and fuels: standards
Better air quality
Ports and shipping
New policy guidance
Planning guidance for transport
Better implementation in the planning process
Better enforcement: road traffic
Technology for enforcement
Role of other agencies
British Transport Police
Wheelclamping on private land
Better enforcement: freight transport
Transport impact assessment
New approach to appraisal for transport projects
Improving appraisal: the planning process
Improving appraisal: development proposals
Understanding the effects of noise
Technology - research and development
Chapter 4 - Making It Happen
"What counts is what works.
The objectives are radical.
The means will be modern."
Labour Party Manifesto 1997
The UK cannot succeed in delivering an integrated transport policy in isolation from Europe. The European Union has an important role to play in setting the framework of policy and law at European level and in promoting partnership and co-operation between Member States, industry and the community. For example, through initiatives such as the European Community strategy for reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars, in proposals for revitalising EU railways and a forthcoming paper on infrastructure charging.
The UK Presidency has provided an excellent opportunity for us to build better, more productive relations with our European neighbours. We will continue to play an active and positive role in future, in particular to help develop European policies which support sustainable transport.
The merger of the former Departments of the Environment and Transport has already secured better integration of transport and environmental thinking and land use planning policy. This White Paper sets out the national framework for an integrated transport policy within which others can act.
Commission for Integrated Transport
This is the first comprehensive White Paper on transport policy for 20 years. But it is not the end of the story: we need to continue to work on our policies and not wait another generation before we take stock of how we are getting on. To help keep the debate alive and to continue building on the consensus, we will establish a new independent body-the Commission for Integrated Transport (CfIT)-to provide independent advice to Government on the implementation of integrated transport policy, to monitor developments across transport, environment, health and other sectors and to review progress towards meeting our objectives. Its remit will include:
reviewing and monitoring progress towards objectives and targets set out in the White Paper;
continuing and refreshing the transport policy debate;
fostering consensus among practical providers;
identifying and disseminating examples of best practice from home and abroad;
advising on developments in Europe, including relevant EU initiatives;
advising on the role of existing and emerging technologies.
We will ask the Commission to advise us, among other things, on:
setting national road traffic and public transport targets;
the revisions we will be making to the 1997 National Road Traffic forecasts in the light of the measures in this White Paper;
lorry weights and the development of rail freight;
the review of transport safety arrangements;
progress on the take-up of green transport plans;
the new rural bus partnership fund in England;
how to secure best value from public subsidy for the bus industry in the longer term;
public expenditure priorities for integrated transport in the longer term;
research, in particular with a view to gaining a better understanding of the costs and benefits of transport and how these relate to the costs faced by users.
Our new approach to transport is not the property of any one party or interest group. The Commission will have an independent chair and a small permanent core of members, chosen in part to represent particular interests but principally for their expertise and impartiality. It will include representatives of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, someone from the science and technology community and a transport user representative. The Commission will be required to consult widely with providers and regulators, central and local government, regional bodies, interest groups, trade unions, business and users. It will also draw on the expertise and resources of other organisations and individuals drawn in for work on particular topics. The arrangements for dealing with devolved matters will be set out in the Scottish Integrated Transport White Paper and the Welsh transport policy statement.
The Commission will make recommendations to Ministers and prepare an annual report on the implementation of the new approach, including progress towards meeting targets, the impacts of key policy initiatives and priorities for further action.
Transport makes a significant call on the public purse-this year, for example, planned expenditure includes some £1.6 billion on railways in Great Britain, around £3 billion on local transport in England and £1.3 billion for the English trunk and motorway network. We will ensure that public expenditure on transport is firmly directed towards delivering the New Deal for transport. In addition, through partnership with the private sector, we expect to see the level of privately-financed investment in transport increase by at least a half over the next three years.
Responses to our consultation last year sought significant improvements in all modes of transport, in rail and bus services, in conditions for pedestrians and cyclists and on our roads. As Government, we have a duty to balance calls for increased public spending against the need to maintain stable and prudent finances over the economic cycle. Our Economic and Fiscal Strategy sets out our framework for future spending which will allow real current spending to grow in line with the growth of the economy, whilst enabling us to increase capital spending to double the level of net public investment as a share of GDP. Our transport infrastructure in particular will benefit from this significant boost to public investment.
But we have to determine the balance of expenditure on public services according to our economic and social priorities. Although transport investment at national level could be funded by dedicating particular streams of taxation income, as some suggest, that would inevitably restrict our ability to use that income flexibly both for transport and for other priorities such as education and health.
Our approach is to take a strategic view. That is why we carried out a Comprehensive Spending Review across government. We have matched spending to our priorities. For transport, these are to ensure that we properly maintain and manage our existing infrastructure and that we support the delivery of integrated transport locally to reduce congestion, improve the environment and increase accessibility for everyone.
Our transport policy sets the context in which roads and railways will be planned and operated. To improve efficiency and to reduce the impact of transport on the environment, our focus must be on the need for better management, maintenance and use of what we have. Managing any infrastructure needs a long term perspective and a degree of certainty about approach and funding, otherwise it is difficult to plan ahead and make the best use of the resources available. Recognising this, we announced in the Economic and Fiscal Strategy a major reform of the public spending rules. We have abolished the annual spending round which encouraged short-termism and inefficiency. Firm spending limits for the next three years will give us greater certainty and stability to plan and manage our programmes sensibly.
The New Deal for transport, new ways of funding
new sources of finance to relieve the burden on the taxpayer, for example:
public-private partnership for London Underground, bringing in some £7 billion of investment, and for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link with some £6 billion of investment;
public-private partnership for air traffic services to secure future investment needs;
local authority airports-relaxation of public sector borrowing controls;
dedicated income streams from road user charging and parking levies to fund local transport packages;
pilot charging schemes for motorways and trunk roads;
advice from the Commission for Integrated Transport on the costs and benefits of transport.
Strategic Rail Authority
We announced in our Manifesto that we will establish a new rail authority to provide a clear, coherent and strategic programme for the development of our railways. The Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee of the House of Commons1 has supported our plan for a Strategic Rail Authority, as a practical way of addressing the problems of the restructured railway. The new authority will be a statutory body with board members appointed by Ministers. It will have a strong voice for the consumer with consumer representation on its Board. It will be subject to instructions and guidance laid down by Ministers in accordance with the new integrated transport policy.
The authority will consult the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales about the exercise of its functions as they relate to their interests and will play an active role in the new arrangements for regional planning in England. The Scottish Executive will be able to issue instructions and guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority for passenger rail services which both start and end in Scotland and for Scottish sleeper services. The Scottish Parliament will have legislative competence in respect of the rail functions of the Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority/Executive.
The Strategic Rail Authority will provide a focus for strategic planning of the passenger and freight railways with appropriate powers to influence the behaviour of key industry players. This will provide a better means of influencing the use of the significant amounts of public funds which we provide to the industry. The Authority will:
promote the use of the railway within an integrated transport system;
ensure that the railways are planned and operated as a coherent network, not merely a collection of different franchises;
work closely with local and national organisations, including local authorities, Regional Planning Conferences, Regional Development Agencies, transport operators and the Highways Agency and the equivalent organisations in Scotland and Wales to promote better integration;
participate actively in the development of regional and local land use planning policies, and ensure as far as possible that decisions on the provision of rail services dovetail with these policies;
ensure that rail transport options are assessed in a way which constitutes good value for money and optimise social and environmental gains;
take a view on the capacity of the railway, assess investment needs, and identify priorities where operators' aspirations may conflict with one another;
promote the provision of accessible transport for disabled people;
keep under review and advise Government on the contribution that the railway can make to sustainable development objectives;
draw up policies and criteria for any future framework for competition between passenger train operators.
The Strategic Rail Authority will not be constrained by the Franchising Director's current narrow focus on the passenger railway. It will support integrated transport initiatives and provide for the first time a clear focus for the promotion of rail freight. The Authority will ensure that freight interests are given due weight both in long term planning and day-to-day decisions. It will take over from the DETR the function of administering the rail freight grant scheme in England.2
The authority will take over responsibility from the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (OPRAF) for the management of passenger rail franchises and the administration of subsidy for passenger services. The Strategic Rail Authority will become the main regulator of passenger network benefits (ie the benefits of an integrated network of train services, including such things as through-ticketing and passenger information), thus avoiding the present confusion about the respective roles of the Office of the Rail Regulator and OPRAF. New sanctions will enable stronger and more timely action to be taken against operators who breach their contracts or licences. Section 55 of the Railways Act 1993 will be amended to make it less cumbersome and to remove ambiguities which have emerged in practice. In future, it will be possible to impose penalties in respect of past breaches which have ceased, and to take quicker enforcement action in a way that will still be fair to operators.
One of the most obvious failures of rail privatisation has been the perceived lack of a clear, understandable national fare structure. Some key fares are regulated by the Franchising Director and from 1999 until 2003 fare increases will be restricted to Retail Price Index minus 1%-a fall in real terms. But many popular fares such as APEX, cheap day singles and returns are set entirely at the discretion of the individual train operator. Although train operators have introduced some new and innovative fares, this has led to a multiplicity of different and frequently changing fares for similar services with, in some cases, complex and varied conditions, for example in relation to advance booking.
The controls- and the absence of controls-are a consequence of legally binding franchise agreements inherited from the previous Government. There is little practical scope for altering them in the short term. But when opportunities arise for negotiating franchises, the new Strategic Rail Authority, guided by Ministers, will ensure that arrangements are made so that train operators structure and market their fares to offer value for money for their customers, and to reflect the fact that the railway is a national network which needs to be marketed accordingly and in a way which encourages people to switch from car to train.
Franchised Passenger Train Operating Companies (GB)
Railways- better services, accountable to passengers
Fares are only one of many key decisions that are currently reflected in franchise agreements with train operators. A number of franchises expire in 2003/4. In seeking new operators, the Strategic Rail Authority will have the opportunity to specify service levels and passenger benefits which fully reflect our integrated transport policy. We will retain the capability for the public sector to take over franchises as a last resort, for example, if there are no acceptable private sector bids. The Strategic Rail Authority will in due course assume the British Railways Board's responsibilities.
We intend to forge a new relationship with the passenger railway, for the benefit of the people that it exists to serve. The Strategic Rail Authority will be our prime vehicle for this, combining pragmatism with a strategic view - the attitude which will henceforth characterise our dealings with the franchised railway. We are willing to consider renegotiation of existing franchises but only where this would secure a dividend for the passenger in terms of improved investment and services as well as value for public money. The performance of existing franchises will be a key criterion for future franchise awards. We will expect to see in all new franchises, and in any that are renegotiated, more demanding performance standards for train operators and arrangements which enable passengers to hold operators to account for the services they run. Passengers must in future have a greater voice in train services which are paid for with their fares and their taxes.
Railways-the passenger's voice
We want passengers to have a real say in the railway system which we are creating. We will transfer responsibility for the statutory passenger representative bodies (the Central Rail Users Consultative Committee and the Regional Committees-CRUCC and RUCC) from the Rail Regulator to the Strategic Rail Authority as recommended by the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee. We value the work of the CRUCC and RUCCs and recognise the need to make more use of the Consultative Committee network. But we also want the Committees to co-operate with bus user representative bodies such as the National Bus Users' Federation and to contribute jointly to the development of the regional transport strategies which will form part of Regional Planning Guidance (described later in this Chapter) and more generally to provide a voice for the passenger in the regions. We will consider how best the Committees can give consumers an effective and powerful voice. We will also ensure that they include a wide cross-section of passengers as recommended by the Select Committee.
The Rail Regulator: infrastructure investment
The rail industry will need an element of stability and certainty if it is to plan its activities effectively. But the Strategic Rail Authority should not be responsible for Government subsidy to the industry and at the same time for setting the charges which form such a large part of the subsidy bill. There will remain a number of key tasks that are best left to an independent Rail Regulator. We will enhance the Regulator's existing duties by a new duty to have regard to statutory guidance from the Secretary of State on his broad policy objectives for the passenger and freight railway.
The Regulator's functions will include setting the charges for track and station access, and for any investment required by the Strategic Rail Authority. He will continue to assess whether Railtrack is delivering the investment and maintenance programmes underpinning the charges, and to be responsible for securing compliance with Railtrack's network licence. The Rail Regulator will continue to have concurrent powers, including those to be granted under the Competition Bill. These arrangements will take account of general regulatory practice emerging from our Green Paper3 on utility regulation, where this is appropriate.
The Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee drew attention to the importance of the Rail Regulator's forthcoming review of Railtrack's access charges, which will determine the amount which Railtrack can charge train operators from 2001 onwards. We look to the Regulator to address in his review both the level and structure of charges. This should include not just an assessment of how much Railtrack should be paid but also of mechanisms for payment. We must ensure that Railtrack has adequate incentives to perform effectively and efficiently, meeting the needs of customers and funders and meeting its obligations to make the best use of the existing network and where appropriate to develop that network.
The Rail Regulator: rolling stock leasing companies
The National Audit Office (NAO) in its report on the Privatisation of the Rolling Stock Leasing Companies noted that the over-riding objective of the then Government was to secure the sale of the companies as soon as possible in 1995. The NAO also noted that the chosen timing of the sale probably had an adverse impact on proceeds. The absence of effective controls over the railway rolling stock leasing companies has been a frequently expressed and long standing concern. Successive Transport Select Committees have recommended action to strengthen regulation of these companies.
In the light of these concerns, we asked the Rail Regulator in January of this year to report on the operation of the rolling stock leasing market. His report, published on 15 May 1998, rejects the previous Government's assumption that the leasing companies do not have market power. The Competition Bill, now before Parliament, would provide substantial protection against abuse of that power. But the Regulator also recommends negotiation with the leasing companies of rules of conduct, to back up competition legislation. We agree that a concordat between the Regulator and the companies is the minimum necessary to protect the public interest and have asked him to enter discussions with them. We will review the need for further action, including regulation, in the light of the outcome.
Investment in rail
Passenger train operators are required under the terms of their franchises to make substantial investment, notably in ordering new rolling stock. So far, these have translated into commitments for nearly £1.6 billion worth of new or re-bodied stock as well as other contractual commitments to improve services to passengers, for example, through station improvements, which will represent additional investment. Moreover, voluntary commitments for a further £230 million of rolling stock have been entered into since franchise award. The negotiation by the Franchising Director of "passenger dividends" where control of franchises has changed has led to commitments to yet more rolling stock, to station improvements and to more frequent services. We are determined to ensure that passengers and taxpayers get full value for the government subsidy provided to the railways. We want more capital investment for the benefit of passengers; more accountability to passengers and, through the Strategic Rail Authority, to Government; and more emphasis on network benefits and integration. As noted earlier, re-negotiation or re-letting of franchises will provide opportunities to put these principles into practice.
The Rail Regulator has identified the need for tighter controls on the implementation of Railtrack's investment programme for the 10,000 route miles of railway and associated infrastructure for which it is responsible. Last year, he secured a licence modification which strengthens his powers to enforce the implementation of Railtrack's Network Management Statement. This will be important in ensuring the rate of investment which is needed to secure the best use of this important national asset. Our proposals for stronger and more timely sanctions under Section 55 of the Railways Act 1993 will strengthen the powers of the Rail Regulator, as well as enabling the Strategic Rail Authority to take action against operators who breach their contracts. Stronger enforcement powers will ensure that the modified Railtrack licence provides more effective and accountable regulation.
We need to take a strategic, network-wide view of the development of the railway and its contribution to an integrated transport policy. In November 1997 we issued revised Objectives, Instructions and Guidance to the Franchising Director, requiring him to provide an assessment of Railtrack's investment plans, as set out in the Network Management Statement, as part of a wider review of the type and level of service that the rail network should provide. The assessment is considering:
whether the taxpayer is getting value for money for the track and station access charges already committed to Railtrack, in terms of a better quality network;
whether Railtrack is doing enough to facilitate the progressive improvement in passenger services and facilities, and increase in the number of rail passengers, consistent with Government policy;
evidence of bottlenecks on the rail network and the action Railtrack is proposing to tackle them;
the actions Railtrack proposes to take, with train operators, to improve overall levels of train operating performance.
The Franchising Director is also contributing to the Rail Regulator's own examination of whether the Network Management Statement published by Railtrack in March 1998 is compliant with Railtrack's stewardship obligations under the terms of its licence. The Regulator noted at the time of publication that the statement provided passengers and freight customers with greater detail about Railtrack's plans but that the statement, as it stood, contained very few firm commitments to deliver significant improvements across the railway network which passengers and customers could recognise as such. As a first step, he is therefore finding out from train operators and funders of the railway whether Railtrack's statement meets their reasonable needs, as required by Railtrack's licence.
To encourage further investment in the rail network, we are providing the Franchising Director with additional funds aimed at supporting new investment proposals that produce significant wider benefits for both integration and modal shift. This will be distributed through two new schemes; the Infrastructure Investment Fund and the Rail Passenger Partnership scheme.
The Infrastructure Investment Fund will support strategic investment projects aimed at addressing capacity constraints at key infrastructure 'pinch-points' on the existing rail network. These projects will supplement the commercial infrastructure investment undertaken by Railtrack and will help to ensure that sufficient capacity is available both for existing demand and for new demand arising from initiatives to encourage more passengers and freight onto the railway.
The Rail Passenger Partnership scheme is designed to encourage and support innovative proposals at the regional and local level that develop rail use and promote modal shift. Support will be targeted on proposals that offer the greatest opportunities for modal shift and integration with other modes, for example those that increase accessibility for disabled people and more generally improve the attractiveness of rail to both existing and potential new users. Support for these projects will help to increase further the quality of service offered by local and regional rail.
The Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee recommended that the new Rail Authority should have the power to offer guarantees to existing franchisees which are proposing to invest in new rolling stock, that any subsequent franchisee would be required to take over the lease for that stock. The Franchising Director already has this power and it will be transferred to the Strategic Rail Authority.
The Select Committee also expressed concern about the disposal of land owned by the British Railways Board and made a number of recommendations. We have already taken steps to ensure that Railtrack, rail businesses and local authorities, are kept informed by British Railways of land sales so that they have an opportunity to acquire sites which could be used in developing the rail network. However, in view of the importance of ensuring that sites which are of potential value to the passenger or freight railway are identified, we have agreed with the British Railways Board that it should suspend land sales immediately while it conducts an audit of the remaining sites. The Board will discuss with key players in the industry its plans for the future and, in the light of that, report to the Government on any sites which have a realistic prospect of use for transport purposes in the foreseeable future. We shall then ensure that Railtrack, the rail businesses and relevant local authorities have ample opportunity to bid for those sites.
In order to secure increased use of rail freight, we have taken action to boost the take up of freight grants, which are paid to tip the balance in favour of rail haulage where the environmental benefits justify that. 1997/98 saw a substantial increase in expenditure on freight grants compared to previous years with nearly £30 million being spent, nearly double that in 1996/97. Over four million lorry trips will have been saved as a result of grants awarded since the scheme began. In order to support our new emphasis on the role of rail freight, we have substantially increased the funds available for these grants.
We will also look at the contribution that inter-modal freight terminals and 'piggyback' style operations (ie where lorry trailers are carried on rail wagons) could make to increasing rail freight's share of the market. Such developments would require significant commitment from the private sector in terms of investment in infrastructure and operations. We will consider applications from Railtrack and others for additional public investment on a case by case basis.