The House of Lords Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment EU Sub-Committee will question Simon Burns MP, Minister for Transport, on Monday 22 October. The Committee was disappointed with the degree of engagement both in the Government’s response and subsequent debate on their report, Tunnel Vision? Completing the European Rail Market.
The report, Tunnel vision? Completing the European rail market, published in December 2011, found that the potential of the Channel Tunnel had not yet been unlocked, despite ample spare network capacity. High access charges, uneven implementation of EU legislation designed to ensure fair access combined with an outdated view of the Tunnel as a unique case were all acting as barriers to rail expansion. The Committee called for a concerted effort to boost the interoperability, affordability and consumer focus of both the European rail network in general and the Channel Tunnel in particular.
Questions the Minister is likely to face include:
- Our report stressed strongly the importance of putting consumers at the heart of rail services – how have you been taking this forward?
- What representations is the Government making at EU level to improve the connectivity and efficiency of the transport network in Europe?
- Is the UK looking to learn from the successful High Speed Railway initiatives in countries such as France and Spain in its work towards completing the High Speed 2 project?
- Were recent problems with the West Coast rail franchise helped or hindered by the demands of EU legislation?
The evidence session will take place at 4.05pm on Monday 22 October in Committee Room 2 of the House of Lords and will be webcast live at www.parliamentlive.tv.
The evidence session is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.