Scope of the inquiry
The Public Accounts Committee is holding an inquiry into rail franchising, Crossrail and the Government’s handling of other rail projects in the UK.
The Committee’s previous report on rail franchising raised concerns about Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchises saying it had caused misery for passengers. On 20 May, national timetable changes were introduced affecting 46% of train times across the rail network. The changes related to the Thameslink programme aimed to offer greater reliability and more services to passengers. There were also changes related to the North West Electrification Programme which was bringing into use enhanced track, signalling and trains. These changes led to significant disruption lasting for many weeks across the South East and North of England.
Moreover, the Committee’s report on Network Rail in December 2017, which looked at the Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train project, had concluded that works to modify the national rail network saw unacceptable cost increases and delays. The National Audit Office (NAO) found that costs for this project, to provide the UK’s first transport network that uses both street trams and the national rail network, more than quadrupled to £75.1million.
In October 2018 it was announced that the Department for Transport would be providing Transport for London with a £350 million interim payment for work on Crossrail. Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has asked the NAO ( PDF 57 KB) to conduct an investigation into the Crossrail project, its governance and delays in its delivery. The NAO’s report is scheduled for early 2019.
In November 2018, reports emerged that Crossrail will announce that it needs additional funding, having already received £650 million in recent months.
The Committee will question representatives from the Department for Transport and Network Rail about rail franchises in the UK, current issues of timetabling, and the sale of Network Rail’s Commercial Estate. Members will also use this opportunity to ask the Department about its response to recent Budget announcements, and seek updates about Crossrail and the Rail Review.