COMMONS

Committee of Public Accounts publishes report on increasing passenger rail capacity

09 November 2010

The Committee of Public Accounts today published its fifth report of this session which, on the basis of evidence from the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail Regulation, examined the measures taken to tackle overcrowding and obtaining value for money from the rail network.

The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:

“The Department for Transport’s latest plans show that all the relevant targets for increasing the number of passenger places on trains during the morning peak by 2014 will be missed.

 

This Committee is concerned that, for commuters, the already unacceptable levels of overcrowding will simply get worse and ever more intolerable.

At present there is no incentive for the rail industry to supply extra capacity without additional public subsidy. The Department should for future franchises require operators to take measures themselves to avoid overcrowding and to meet the costs of doing so.

The mindset in the rail industry that believes that improvements can be achieved only with extra subsidy must change.

 

All those involved should seek greater efficiency so that resources can be released to fund improvements. With serious cuts in public spending now agreed, it is imperative that the rail industry become more efficient – or the passenger will pay.

The Committee also expressed concern that the regulator, who had been in place for more than a decade, had not succeeded in getting a grip on the railway industry’s efficiency.

 

The Committee felt that the present Government’s arrangements did not provide effective scrutiny and recommended change, which included Network Rail’s being audited by the National Audit Office and scrutinised on value for money by the Public Accounts Committtee.”



Margaret Hodge was speaking as the Committee published its fifth Report of this Session which, on the basis of evidence from the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail Regulation, examined the measures taken to tackle overcrowding and obtaining value for money from the rail network.

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