pteg calls for rail reviews to map onto a devolving Britain

Rail tracks and signals c Network Rail

In a statement published today pteg has called for the current reviews of the future of Network Rail to ensure that the railways map onto the geographies and governance of an increasingly devolved Britain.

The statement can be downloaded below.

Tobyn Hughes, who leads for pteg on rail, said:

‘Our rail network serves an increasingly devolved Britain. Where most of the big decisions about transport were once taken in Whitehall, more decisions are now being taken in Edinburgh, Cardiff and London, as well as in the English regions. Through Rail North and West Midlands Rail the city regions are in the process of taking on more responsibilities for local and inter-regional services. At the same time we are driving forward wider transport strategies, both individually and together, through pan-regional bodies like Midlands Connect and Transport for the North. The reviews currently underway of Network Rail and the wider structure of the railways need to dovetail with these devolutionary agendas so that rail investment and delivery can help achieve our local growth priorities, and link up with investment on other modes. Whilst we fully recognise the need to protect the integrity and standards of the national rail network, and to ensure that freight and long distance services prosper, we also need a railway that is accountable to the devolved areas it serves.’

The statement also highlights the need for cultural change within Network Rail and the wider industry to ensure clearer accountability and greater efficiency. It goes on to show how devolved bodies have already commissioned or delivered schemes on the national rail network in a more cost effective and timely way than would otherwise have been the case and argues that devolved entities should have more scope to do so where they have the capacity, ambition and capability.

Tobyn Hughes added:

'We believe we have a lot to offer to the search for a more efficient and accountable railway which maximises its role in supporting growth. We can ensure that scheme prioritisation ties in with wider regional plans for economic development and multi-modal transport strategies. We can also be an informed and committed sponsor for investment programmes in our areas as we are much closer to the action than Whitehall ever could be. We can also accelerate rail investment and delivery by taking on the job ourselves where there is appropriate scope to do so.'

pteg represents public sector transport bodies serving 11 million people in Greater Manchester (TfGM), West Yorkshire (West Yorkshire Combined Authority), West Midlands (Centro), Merseyside (Merseytravel), Tyne and Wear (Nexus) and South Yorkshire (SYPTE)

For more contact Jonathan Bray on 0113 251 7445 / 0781 804 1485