Transport Committee: Press Notice

Session 2008-09, 27 July 2009

New Inquiry and Call for Evidence

Priorities for investment in the railways

The Committee will inquire into the priorities for investment in the railways. Long-term rail infrastructure projects have seen a significant boost in the last decade. The 2007 White Paper on the railways set out the Government's strategy for the railways over the next 30 years. It also contained the High Level Output Statement for the period 2009-14 which set out detailed investment priorities for this five-year period. In January this year the Department for Transport said "Now is the time for us to be planning for Britain's transport" . High Speed Two was established to evaluate the costs and benefits of a new high speed rail line from London to the West Midlands as well as electrification of some of the most heavily used existing rail lines. Existing plans for Crossrail, Thameslink and upgrades of Birmingham New Street and Reading Stations were re-confirmed.

Although the next spending review has been delayed until after the next election, optimistic projections based on the budget suggest substantial capital spending cuts across Government Departments. It is uncertain how rail investment budgets will fare under these circumstances, but it will be more important than ever to get the priorities absolutely right. In June 2009, the Prime Minister announced in the Green Paper, Building Britain's Future, that a new body would be created to advise on transport infrastructure priorities.

Prioritising investment in Rail

  1. In the medium to long term, what should be the main objectives for investment in the railways, in order to improve both freight and passenger services?
  2. How should these objectives be determined?
  3. What is the impact of rail enhancements on the economy?
  4. How should long-term development of major new infrastructure, such as high speed lines, be balanced against short and medium term investment to improve capacity and passenger experiences?
  5. Is enough consideration given to the integration of rail with other transport modes, and with demographic developments, such as new housing developments, when rail investment decisions are made?
  6. Is enough consideration being given to the views of passengers in making investment decisions on the railways?
  7. What should be the key priorities for the next High Level Output Statement?

The Current Rail Investment Priorities and the Impact of the Recession

  1. Is the current investment programme sufficient for the needs of the UK economy and for passengers themselves?
  2. In light of the current economic crisis is it still important that projects designed to increase capacity continue on the present timescale?

Interested parties are invited to submit evidence by Thursday 1 October 2009.

Guidance on submitting written evidence

It assists the Committee if those submitting written evidence adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Submissions should be as short as is consistent with conveying the relevant information. As a rough guide, it is usually helpful if they can be confined to six pages or less. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference. A single-page summary of the main points is sometimes helpful. The submission should be in a form suitable for monochrome photocopying.
  2. Evidence should be submitted in Word or Rich Text format, by e-mail to The body of the e-mail should include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. It should be absolutely clear who the submission is from, particularly whether it is on behalf of an organisation or in the name of an individual.
  3. Once accepted by the Committee, written evidence becomes the Committee's property and it may decide to publish it or make other public use of it. You should not publish evidence submitted to the Committee. If you wish your submission, or any part of it, to be treated as confidential, then please indicate this clearly when you submit it.
  4. Though the Committee is happy to receive copies of published material, formal submissions of evidence should be original work and not published elsewhere.
  5. Committee staff are happy to give further advice on any aspect of the Committee's work by phone or e-mail.

More detailed guidance on giving evidence to a select committee is available on-line at: