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Scottish transport academics argue for vertical integration

He and Professor David Gray,

of Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, agreed that the imminent public spending squeeze raised the question of whether industry reform could achieve savings. Gray added: ‘The rail industry has been calling for vertical integration of all the managed costs for many years. That would certainly work in Scotland because the size of the nation is appropriate.’ However, the Scottish

by Arthur Allan

Vertical integration of Scotland’s railways could help cut the industry’s costs, which have ‘ballooned’ since privatisation, MSPs have been told. Two transport academics say

‘hard questions’ need to be asked about Scotland’s £700m annual rail

Passengers: We want more services on WAML

London TravelWatch is demanding a better service and station improvements, as part of the new franchise agreement, for the West Anglia Main Line from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, Hertford East and Stansted Airport. The passenger group stated:

‘Our priorities for the new franchise, due to start next year, are more trains and later services in the evening. This is an important, busy route for both commuting and leisure. ‘Many stations on this line

are well below what passengers expect. They are poorly signed, provide inadequate information and some are untidy and cluttered.’ The franchise is currently held by National Express.

subsidy, which represents a 400-per- cent cost increase against passenger growth of 40 per cent. ‘A 40 per cent increase is all very

well, but at a cost of 400 per cent, it is not exactly an improvement in productivity,’ said Professor Iain Docherty of the University of Glasgow.

Parliament’s transport committee was told that any such move by the Scottish government would require changes to Westminster legislation. Committee member Charlie Gordon MSP asked the academics if it would be possible to ‘remove Network Rail from the equation’ on new routes, such as the Borders rail link.

Docherty agreed this was

feasible, but added: ‘There will be an interface with the current network and Network Rail somewhere… It quickly becomes terribly legalistic and complex.’

Docherty sits as a non-executive

director of Transport Scotland, but he emphasised that his comments did not reflect the agency’s corporate stance. The committee also discussed

whether a vertically integrated rail system would be better run through the public or private sector. Asked his view, Steve Montgomery, managing director of the operator ScotRail, said: ‘One issue is whether we would have the same level of investment in the ScotRail franchise if it were not in the private sector. If the franchise went into the public sector, would it have to compete more for the money that is available? There are probably arguments both ways.’ l Most Scots support public ownership of the railways, a poll commissioned by the Green Party has found. Almost half of those questioned favoured setting up a not-for-profit public company, while only 16 per cent preferred the current arrangement.


Chris Green: ‘The decade of the station is coming’


Improving stations is a key part of raising passenger

satisfaction on the railways, stations’ champion Chris Green told an industry conference.

‘If we are serious about getting an overall satisfaction of 80 per cent, we’ve got to start by getting the stations right, then we’ll be getting towards the 90 per cent that we all aspire to,’ he said, referring to the annual passenger satisfaction scores gathered by Passenger Focus. There have been great improvements in rolling stock already, Green told delegates, adding: ‘The next decade needs to be the decade of the station and all the signs are that it is moving in that direction.’

Green and Sir Peter Hall were

PAGE 8 JUNE 2010

tasked with improving stations when Labour was still in power. Speaking at the April conference

– The Future of Station Design – organised by FOSD, Green enthused about the prospect of planning brand new ‘iconic’ stations on lines such as Crossrail, but stressed the need to make existing stations look smarter and improve facilities. Funding for station

maintenance is £3.5bn over the next five years. ‘The challenge is that there are 2,500 stations,’ he added, ‘most of them are Victorian and 15 per cent of them are listed and that makes the job 10 times harder.’ The Department has passed its recommendations for minimum standards for stations to the coalition government.

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