Clause 8

Part of Local Transport Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 22nd April 2008.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport) 5:45 pm, 22nd April 2008

I beg to move amendment No. 36, in clause 8, page 10, line 31, at end insert—

‘(c) to have regard to any relevant plans and strategies published by any relevant rail infrastructure manager.’.

The Committee will have noticed that amendment No. 36 and amendments Nos. 38 and 39 in clause 9, which I think we will have a chance to discuss later on, are very similar.

Just prior to lunch, the Minister was asking exactly how we formulated the amendments and how much outside help we had received. I have to acknowledge that here we are grateful for the briefing from Network Rail. Only on these amendments and on one other group have we received significant help and not managed to formulate the proposals ourselves. The purpose of these measures is to ensure that when developing transport plans and policies, local authorities have regard to the policies and plans of those charged with operating the rail network.

The concept is fairly simple. A significant proportion of travelling is done by rail—people and goods, travelling in and out and through local areas, and within local areas, by train. The rail network transcends local authority borders and in a number of examples is not operated and managed by local transport authorities. However, at the beginning and end of train journeys, users obviously rely on transport services put on within and by the local authority. Those services are partially governed by plans, so that represents integration. The new integrated transport authorities, which I will come on to, will have an obligation to consider integration across all modes of transport. It makes sense, therefore, that local transport authorities should consider that as well.

The amendment would ensure that local transport authorities had “regard to” the plans and strategies provided by any rail infrastructure manager. My understanding and reading is that “rail infrastructure manager” also covers operators. The amendment would place an obligation to consult or have regard; no duty would be placed in respect of developing the whole plan or policy, or to put into the plan what the rail network told them to include. I do not see the duty to consult and to have regard as an onerous burden on local authorities; it is a question of consultation.

I believe that “relevant rail infrastructure manager” is the right definition. It is defined in statutory instrument No. 599—the Railways and Other Guided  Transport Systems (Safety) Regulations 2006—which covers Network Rail, train operating companies, both passengers and freight.

The amendment refers to “relevant plans and strategies”. I mean that and I think that most people’s common understanding of it means Network Rail’s route plans and utilisation strategy. Those set out current capacity, passenger and freight demand, passenger and freight demand trends, operational performance cost and projections as to how the future requirements of rail users and funders should be met. Therefore, those rail utilisation strategies should inform the thinking and the consultation process.