A 21st cen­tury BRB?

Rail (UK) - - Contents - Paul Stephen As­sis­tant Fea­tures Ed­i­tor paul.stephen@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @paul_rail

Labour vows to cre­ate a 21st cen­tury equiv­a­lent of the Bri­tish Rail­ways Board (BRB) for long-term net­work plan­ning.

SHADOW Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port Andy McDon­ald has pledged to cre­ate a 21st cen­tury equiv­a­lent of the Bri­tish Rail Board (BRB) to pro­vide long-term strate­gic plan­ning for the rail net­work should Labour win the next elec­tion.

McDon­ald also re­peated his party’s in­ten­tion to run the na­tional sys­tem cen­trally from White­hall by pro­gres­sively tak­ing fran­chises into pub­lic own­er­ship as they ex­pire.

These com­mit­ments were made in his ad­dress to the Rail­way In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion (RIA) an­nual con­fer­ence on Oc­to­ber 20.

He ar­gued that these mea­sures would help com­bat in­ef­fi­ciency, waste­ful spend­ing and frag­men­ta­tion in the in­dus­try, while the sup­ply chain would also ben­e­fit from a de­par­ture from Net­work Rail’s cur­rent al­lo­ca­tion of fund­ing from govern­ment in fixed five-year con­trol pe­ri­ods.

He said that by ex­tend­ing con­trol pe­ri­ods to seven years and by switch­ing to a ‘rolling’ pro­gramme of in­vest­ment that is re­viewed on a more reg­u­lar ba­sis, the cur­rent pat­tern of ‘feast and famine’ fund­ing would be ended be­cause spend­ing is typ­i­cally stronger at the start of con­trol pe­ri­ods be­fore drop­ping-off sharply to­wards the end.

He added that such a move would also give the sup­ply chain greater trans­parency of NR’s re­newals work­bank, while avoid­ing up to 30% of added costs that are ac­crued by com­pa­nies ex­pand­ing to meet high de­mand and then con­tract­ing when work dries up, be­fore hav­ing to be­gin the cy­cle again.

McDon­ald also said that a Labour govern­ment would em­bark on an ex­ten­sive pro­gramme of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion to in­crease ca­pac­ity and re­duce op­er­at­ing costs and emis­sions, and would fund a ‘Cross­rail for the North’ through a ten-year Na­tional Trans­for­ma­tion Fund.

“The Con­ser­va­tive Party’s pol­icy can be de­scribed as prom­ises, post­pone­ment and can­cel­la­tion,” he said. “They can­not know what

dam­age its feast and famine ap­proach is caus­ing the rail­way by de­stroy­ing ca­pac­ity and be­ing deeply in­ef­fi­cient. In our plan, we would do two things very dif­fer­ently. Firstly, we are com­mit­ted to a ma­jor ex­pen­di­ture pro­gramme in rail and, se­condly, we will im­ple­ment fund­ing in a steady and con­sis­tent way to pro­vide in­dus­try with a multi-year view.

“We would move to ex­tended con­trol pe­ri­ods and give at least two years’ vis­i­bil­ity, but this should sit within a much longer strate­gic view of rail­way plan­ning. If we can bring this to bear then it has to be good for growth, jobs and ex­ports and of huge ben­e­fit to all ar­eas of the econ­omy.”


Shadow Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port Andy McDon­ald.

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