The amendments would mean that operators of bus and rail services and passengers should be consulted before local authorities and ITAs make local transport plans. I suspect, given what happened to the previous amendment, that I am probably not going to get very far with this.
The 2000 Act and the Bill do not confer a duty to have regard to other things but it makes sense that they should have regard to promoting integrated transport and how the bus and rail network should work together. Route utilisation strategies are central to the forward planning activity of the railway industry. They set out current capacity passenger and freight demand, operation performance and cost projections to address the future requirements of rail users, funders and key stakeholders. The rail utilisation strategies then perform the development and delivery of timetables, infrastructure, maintenance and renewals of the network. If local transport authorities are to be safe, integrated, economic, environmentally sustainable and efficient they must take into account the area’s current and future rail capacity.
The Government will almost certainly argue that it is more appropriate for local authorities to decide which organisations they consult, given what has already been said this morning. By and large that is true, but how many local authority areas do not contain an operating railway station, for instance? It cannot be many, if any.
The Minister will probably say that the Government will put in guidance the kind of bodies it would be appropriate for local authorities to consult and the kind of plans and strategies that should be considered. She will almost certainly say that it is preferable to have such bodies in guidance rather than in the Bill because it would be a long list and would become increasingly out of date over time. There may be some sense in that. However, if anything, the railways are set to become more important and as it is much harder to move a railway station than a bus stop there is a need to encourage more integrated working. There needs to be a stronger relationship in the legislation between what we do with rail and what we do with road.