2 March 2012
Even before the Government has responded to the rail 'value for money' report produced by Sir Roy McNulty, new franchise bids are being encouraged by the Department for Transport which would operate a McNulty- style service.
Bid documents for the new Great Western franchise, which will run for 15 years from April 2013, acknowledge that the framework that tenders will be assessed under are those set by McNulty. This would mean 29 ticket offices would close at Category E stations, whilst another 17 larger Category D stations would see the opening hours of their ticket offices severely reduced.
With many of the major franchises up for renewal over the next two years, including the East and West Coast Main Lines, the terms included in the Great Western documents look set to become a model for other bid processes.
The Government has repeatedly delayed publishing its response to the McNulty report, with the latest expectation being that it will put a ‘Command Paper’ before Parliament during March. Despite this lack of a formal process, let alone any democratic scrutiny, the recommendations appear to be being locked into the working assumptions of multi-billion pound franchises.
TSSA’s Together For Transport are already organising around this process, building an alliance of passenger groups and unions to fight the McNulty-inspired cuts in the Great Western region.
To get involved in this work or to discuss the equivalent in your area see www.togetherfortransport.org
The impact of privatisation and fragmentation is clear to see in a new report from think-tank Just Economics, which found UK rail services to be less affordable, less comfortable, slower, more inefficient and more expensive than in comparable European countries.
Quantifying the huge benefits of investment in rail, the report concludes, ‘Our under-performing railways carry a considerable cost both for passengers and for the public purse. Our calculations show that a more affordable, more comfortable and faster railway would generate a staggering £324 billion in social value (£9.2 billion a year) between now and 2050.’
See the full report at www.justeconomics.co.uk