Con­cern at costs im­posed on re­gional ser­vices

Rail (UK) - - News -

Ur­ban Trans­port Group has writ­ten to the Of­fice of Rail and Road (ORR), ex­press­ing con­cern over in­dus­try pro­cesses that it be­lieves could shift the bal­ance of the rail­way’s in­fra­struc­ture costs onto re­gional ser­vices, which it says could dam­age their fu­tures.

Ben Still, Lead Board mem­ber for rail is­sues at UTG, stated that re­gional trains are usu­ally lighter, slower and cause less im­pact on in­fra­struc­ture, and there­fore should not be bur­dened with more of the costs.

UTG’s re­sponse formed part of re­cent con­sul­ta­tions by ORR and Net­work Rail into over­all costs. It said that the con­sul­ta­tion could cause the al­lo­ca­tion of net­work’s fixed costs at­trib­uted to North­ern to rise 50% while Merseyrail’s could in­crease 66%, while Vir­gin West Coast and Vir­gin Trains East Coast could both drop 58%.

The UTG let­ter said: “To adopt a con­struct for rail costs which is to the ben­e­fit of the op­er­a­tors whose trains have some of the largest im­pacts on the cost of in­fra­struc­ture pro­vi­sion in a way which cre­ates ar­ti­fi­cial prof­its, whilst at the same time load­ing costs on to op­er­a­tors whose trains cause the least im­pact and which dam­ages their fu­ture prospects, is not some­thing that we be­lieve is ei­ther jus­ti­fi­able or sen­si­ble.”

Still added: “Re­gional rail ser­vices bring clear ben­e­fits through switch­ing traf­fic from road to rail in our busy ci­ties, historic towns and na­tional parks. We need a fairer sys­tem of al­lo­cat­ing costs to them than the one we have now, the flaws of which could be ex­ac­er­bated as a re­sult of these emerg­ing plans.”

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