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Transport Knowledge Hub Weekly Update

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New railway review offers Grayling breathing space

A “sweeping review to transform Britain’s railways” was launched by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling last week.

The Department for Transport says that the review is the “most significant since privatisation” and will consider ambitious recommendations for reform.

Led by independent chair Keith Williams, the former British Airways chief executive and deputy chairman of John Lewis Partnership, the review will build on the government’s strategy of bringing track and train closer together to reduce disruption and improve accountability. It will also consider regional partnerships and how innovation can improve services and value for money for passengers.

The announcement follows a difficult period for the railways, with the failure of the East Coast intercity franchise and the subsequent failure of the GTR and Northern to deliver the May timetable. Commentators have suggested that the review will buy some time for Grayling and his government colleagues.

Responding to news of the review, Norman Baker, who served as a transport minister for the coalition government, said: “It gives the semblance of action, outsources the whole issue to someone outside the department, and gives everyone in the department, ministers and civil servants alike, a breathing space of several months until the review reports, during which time they can bat any awkward question away on the basis that the review will examine it.”

While the review promises to be the “most significant since privatisation”, it certainly won’t be the first. There have been a number of significant reviews in the current decade. “It’s almost become a part of our DNA that we must have a rail review once every few years,” commented one Whitehall insider.

It’s now two and a half years since Nicola Shaw completed her review of Network Rail and it’s just under six years since Richard Brown delivered his review of rail franchising in January 2013. And the McNulty rail review, published in May 2011, now seems like a distant memory.

John Nelson, a former executive at British Rail, believes that sidelining McNulty’s “excellent” report was the government’s worst single oversight.

McNulty’s report demonstrated clearly and for all but the purblind to ignore that the fragmented structure that separated train operations from infrastructure was costing the taxpayer millions,” said Nelson. “It was sub-optimal in just about every respect.”

Nelson believes that the review is unnecessary. “Grayling might need it for political  cover and to buy some respite whilst giving  the impression of moving things forward,” he said. “In fact it will almost certainly delay rather than accelerate the actions that need to be put in place.”

Baker questioned the appointment of Williams. “He has no obvious knowledge of rail and it is a tall order to expect him to absorb all he needs to absorb before writing his report,” he said.

He continued: “I am sure, all await his conclusions with interest. Time will tell whether his report is a catalyst for major change, or another worthy document to add to the dust-covered volumes on the top shelf at Great Minister House.”

Keith Williams will be supported by an external panel and will report next year. The government will publish a white paper on the review’s recommendations, with the implementation of reforms planned to start from 2020.

The panel will consider all parts of the rail industry, from the current franchising system and industry structures, accountability, and value for money for passengers and taxpayers.

About the Author

This post was written by Robert Jack. Robert is Managing Editor and Publisher of Passenger Transport. He has worked as a journalist, editor and publisher in the passenger transport sector for 18 years. He has played a key role in many transport-related conferences and events.

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News Update 6 September 2018

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1. The DfT has asked the Office of Rail and Road to monitor the internal organisation of Network Rail following the creation of its devolved route structure. This is part of the Government response to the Office of Rail and Road draft determination of the Periodic Review published in June relating to Control Period 6. The Government’s Statement of Funds Available, published in October 2017, committed the Government to enabling around £47.96bn of spending on rail infrastructure in Control Period 6, £34.7bn of which is direct Government grant.
Government response to the periodic review 2018 draft determination is available at
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-orrs-draft-determination
2. The opening of Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) has been delayed from December 2018 to Autumn 2019 to complete testing on the central section between Paddington and Abbey Wood.
3. The Department for Transport is extending the current Great Western Rail franchise to April 2020 and plans to negotiate a direct award for the following 2 years, including an option to extend for a further 2 years; the planned new specification has been deferred.
4. Legislation for the second section of HS2 north of Birmingham is to be delayed for a year: the Bill will now be tabled in 2020.
5. Scottish ministers have confirmed public sector bodies will be able to bid for the next ScotRail franchise, due to commence in 2025.
6. Rotala owned Diamond Bus has now been fined £9075 by the Traffic Commissioner for poor punctuality, and this will be returned to passengers in Kidderminster in the form of free or reduced price travel: the fine is based on £33 for each of 275 vehicles the company is authorised to operate based on section 155 of the Transport Act 2000. The company is appealing against the decision to the Upper Tribunal.
7. Edinburgh is to review the location of the city’s 2500 bus stops with the aim of locating them more than 400 metres apart to reduce the number of stops. Average speeds on Lothian buses have reduced 7.7% between 2006 and 2018.

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News Update 16 August 2018

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1. The Government and the Rail Delivery Group have published a joint rail data action plan: more real time data is to be available to enable the development of intelligent travel apps providing information for passengers about services and delays, seats and on-board facilities.
2. Regulated fares will increase 3.2% in January 2019.
3. Train companies are making changes in September to make ticketing simpler – ‘Route Direct’ or ‘Any Permitted’ will be removed, and ‘London Terminals’ will specify the station.
4. Greater Manchester Combined Authority wants the Government to act to prevent taxi and private hire drivers licensed in other parts of the country from operating within the conurbation.
5. Which? Reports that in July 2018, only 23% of people told its customer insight tracker that they trust train travel – a 6% reduction on July 2017. An analysis of Transport Focus data found that passenger satisfaction has stagnated over the past 10 years.
6. Stadler is the preferred bidder to supply 71 trains for Wales and Borders to be introduced from 2022.
7. The Transport Secretary has decided against splitting the Great Western Rail franchise – an option that was included in the consultation.
8. A study by Sheffield Hallam and Sheffield Universities for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation looked at transport issues facing out of work residents in four areas of Greater Manchester and Leeds and concluded transport is a significant barrier to work once the trade-off between the cost, reliability and speed of public transport and the prospect of low wage, insecure work was considered. High bus fares, poor coordination of services and the lack of reliability seriously hamper the ability of low income groups to commute to more distant jobs. The report suggests bus franchising to improve the availability, affordability and reliability of services; planning processes to ensure new housing and developments are well served by public transport; and transport and employment policy is integrated so that employment support providers help clients understand travel choices available.
9. 8 electric single deck Volvo buses have been introduced in Harrogate using overhead masts installed at bus stops for charging in the bus station. A 7 minute charge provides power for 35 miles.
10. Transport for the West Midlands is inviting tenders for the supply of 18 battery trams, with an option for a further 32 for its Metro services.
11. Spelthorne Borough Council is promoting a light rail scheme costing £375m to link Staines and Heathrow Airport funded by the private sector. Plans have been submitted to the DfT in response to the request for market led proposals.

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News Update 10 August 2018

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1. The decision to delay some rail timetable changes will result in South Western Railway’s franchise being renegotiated as it will be unable to meet the commitment to deliver 30% more seats on trains into Waterloo from December 2018.
2. British Social Attitudes Survey 2017: Public attitudes towards transport
This is a statistical report by the Department for Transport: the survey includes issues such as willingness to change current travel behaviours, attitudes to the environment and transport, congestion, and views on road safety.
The proportion of people saying they never travel by train has reduced, but infrequent travel (less than once per week) has increased. Frequent travellers (1 to 5 times per week) has hardly changed. A similar pattern exists for travel by bus or as a car passenger. Opposition to using the bus instead of the car for short trips has declined (45% 2016, 38% 2017)
Report available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/british-social-attitudes-survey-2017
3. Most of the trackbed on the TransPennine route between York and Manchester is to be relaid accounting for one third of the expenditure on rail enhancements nationwide in the period 2019/20 to 2023/24
4. The National Infrastructure Commission has produced a report National Infrastructure Assessment suggesting the Government should introduce new local funding mechanisms to help local authorities raise funds for transport and other infrastructure.
5. Network Rail has submitted plans to the Secretary of State to construct phase 2 of the East West Rail project between Bicester and Bedford.
6. The Government has announced a £780m investment on the East Coast mainline by 2020, improving platforms, tracks, signals and junctions.
7. A consortium has submitted a market led proposal to build a rail line – Windsor Link Railway – to connect the South Western and Great Western rail lines, linking Slough – Staines, and a second phase will connect Heathrow.
8. A proposal, HS4Air, to connect HS1 at Ashford and HS2 North West of London, serving Heathrow and Gatwick airports, is to be submitted to the Department for Transport in response to the request for rail proposals.
9. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published a paper reviewing Local Enterprise Partnerships and setting out details of reforms. The government remains committed to Local Enterprise Partnerships and seeks to strengthen leadership and capability, improve accountability, manage risk and provide clarity on geography.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/strengthened-local-enterprise-partnerships
10. The Traffic Commissioners have published their Annual Report to the Secretary of State for 2017-18.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/traffic-commissioners-annual-report-2017-to-2018

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News Update 26 July 2018

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1. The Department for Transport has published an interim summary of responses to the S19/22 consultation: the final approach to the guidance and draft regulations will be announced in the autumn.
2. The Department for Transport has set out an Inclusive Transport Strategy to improve accessibility across all types of travel. £300 million is to be available for the Access for All programme making rail stations more accessible, including step free access. Other measures include improving and simplifying Passenger Assist – the system disabled passengers use to book assistance on the rail network. £2 million is for audio and visual equipment on buses, so that passengers on almost every bus will know where and when to alight.
3. The Campaign for Better Transport has produced a report Three stages to better bus services – using the Bus Services Act. This is a guide for local authorities on using the powers to implement a partnership approach or franchising
Ref: http://bettertransport.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdfs/bus-services-act-guidance.pdf
4. Transport solicitor, James Backhouse, has published a paper setting out the actions that local authorities must take for franchising powers in the Bus Services Act and potential impact and likely risks. Available at www.backhousejones.co.uk/bus-ted
5. December 2018 rail timetable changes will be scaled back, 15 companies will introduce amended timetables, 8 will continue with the May 2018 timetable (Cross Country, Govia Thameslink, Great Western, London Overground, Northern, South Western, TransPennine Express, West Midlands Trains)
6. The Rail Delivery Group has appointed a Dispute Resolution Ombudsman to rule on customer complaints: the independent body will be launched in November and customers unhappy at the outcome of complaints to rail companies will be able to refer them formally.
7. An Advanced Quality Partnership Scheme for buses in Wolverhampton city centre will be introduced in November, covering 71 bus stops with a slot booking system. Initially, vehicle emission standards will be Euro III; from April 2019, at least 10% of journeys of each operator must be Euro VI, increasing to 50% from April 2020, 75% from April 2021 and 100% by April 2022. Services operating on routes to destinations outside the West Midlands at a frequency of two buses an hour or less must initially be Euro III and Euro VI from 2026. 8 operators are included in the scheme.
8. Overcrowding on commuter trains to and from London declined slightly last year but increased on routes into other major cities in England and Wales. London, Cambridge and Manchester have the highest proportion of overcrowded services – in the morning peak, 23% of passengers were standing on trains arriving in London. In the last 10 years, the West Midlands, North West and West Yorkshire have seen the fastest growth in rail usage.
9. Nottingham City Council is to retrofit 180 buses with clean air exhaust technology, ensure every taxi and private hire vehicle is low emission and replace its own fleet with electric or other low emission vehicles to reduce air pollution below the legal limit without the need for a clean air zone.
10. The Office of Rail and Road Network Rail Monitor reports a 1.7% reduction in the number of infrastructure related failures affecting train services in the third and fourth quarters of 2017/18.
11. Network Rail has four bidders in the final stage to sell its non-core property assets in England and Wales – around 5500 properties, the majority of which are railway arches. Proceeds from the sale will help fund the upgrade plan.
12. The Mayor of London, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police have published a Vision Zero action plan to eliminate death and serious injury, which includes a 20mph speed limit on all roads within the congestion charging zone: 73 junctions with the worst safety record have been identified.
13. Stagecoach is to trial an autonomous single deck bus in a depot environment.
14. All 18 commercial bus operators in Manchester have launched OneBus to unify all services under one brand with a common logo displayed on all 1500 buses.
15. Traveline Briefing – attached

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News Update 12 July 2018

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1. The DfT has launched a consultation on legally requiring bus operators to share their data to allow passengers to obtain real time information about bus routes, times and fares. There is also a consultation which covers actions to make operators provide audio and visual information on buses – powers in the Bus Services Act 2017.
Members will be contacted separately for a Consortium response.
2. Department for Transport – Total Transport feasibility report and pilot review
A report has been issued on the projects funded to find ways of commissioning public sector funded transport so that passengers get a better service with less duplication of resources – services such as non-emergency patient, adult social care and home to school transport. £7.6m was allocated to 37 schemes in 36 local authorities to pilot solutions in their area, focused on rural transport. Key themes emerged – local knowledge is required, there is no single solution, local engagement with each organisation is important, health sector and local authority transport requires more integration, some financial savings have been achieved with improved services at similar cost identifying potential savings and longer term benefits, some delivery models do not fit into existing legislation.
3. The North West Traffic Commissioner has ruled on the information Transport for Greater Manchester has a right to request from bus operators to assess franchising in accordance with the Bus Services Act 2017.
4. The House of Commons Transport Committee has recommended the DfT publish a set of priorities for rail infrastructure investment in each English region.
5. West Coast Railway has operated 6 off-peak trips between Oxenholme and Windermere for 2 weeks from 18 June, funded by the DfT, with no fares charged: Northern continued to provide a replacement bus service.
6. Bombardier Transportation and Hitachi Rail are to jointly bid for the HS2 Phase One £2.75 billion rolling stock contract.
7. The Rail Minister has confirmed the Midland Mainline will be electrified between Clay Cross and Sheffield for HS2 services.
8. The Government has confirmed the new HS2 rolling stock depot will be constructed in Leeds.
9. East Midlands HS2 Partnership will receive up to £1.8m of funding to support the development of a new station at Toton.
10. Thameslink and Great Northern are to implement an interim timetable on 15 July.

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News Update 5 July 2018

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1. Local authority funding for supported bus services has halved since 2010. A report has been published by the Campaign for Better Transport – Buses in Crisis. 199 routes were altered or withdrawn last year, 3347 since 2010. A National Investment Strategy for Buses and Coaches with long term funding is suggested.
Reference: http://bettertransport.org.uk/buses-in-crisis-2018
2. Estimated passenger journeys on franchised rail services reduced 1.4% in 2017/18 to 1.708bn; there was a 2.1% reduction in journeys in London and the South East, which accounts for 68.7% of national passenger journeys. Season tickets accounted for 32% of all journeys (48% 10 years ago); journeys on long distance and regional services continued to grow.
Report Passenger Rail Usage 2017/18 quarter 4 Statistical Release available at
orr.gov.uk/statistics/published-stats/statistical-releases
3. The Office of Rail and Road is to impose higher charges on new interurban open access rail services in order that they contribute to the fixed costs of the rail network
Draft Determination of Network Rail’s periodic review is available at
http://orr.gov.uk/news-and-media/press-releases/2018/regulator-calls-for-network-rail-to-spend-more-on-reliability-and-safety-in-the-next-five-years
4. A report Rail Cities UK by the Urban Transport Group outlines that significant rail expansion is the only viable option to help UK cities to achieve their ambitions on economic growth and meeting housing demand, whilst also creating attractive urban centre with less road traffic and better air quality.
Ref: http://www.urbantransportgroup.org/resources/types/reports/rail-cities-uk-our-vision-their-future
5. The National Infrastructure Commission is funding an investigation to assess the benefits of moving freight from road to rail and from rail to road. A report is expected at the end of October.
6. Rail passengers in the North of England affected by the recent disruption will receive a compensation package agreed by the board of Transport for the North following a recommendation from the Department for Transport.
7. Transport for Greater Manchester has ordered 27 new trams at a cost of £72 million, increasing capacity on the network by 15%.
8. Network Rail’s annual report for 2017/18 records a spend of £4.1bn in 2017/18.
9. Go Ahead Group has purchased East Yorkshire Motor Services.

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Plenary meeting 29 June 2018

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Notes of Plenary meeting
Friday 29 June 2018
Durham County Council
County Hall
Durham

Thanks were expressed to Cllr Carl Marshall and Andy Leadbeater of Durham County Council for hosting the meeting and for providing an excellent study visit to Beamish Museum and to the Hitachi rail manufacturing plant.

1. Apologies & Attendance

2. Notes of Plenary meeting on 4 May 2018 & matters arising – approved

3. Notes of Executive meeting on 4 May 2018 & matters arising – approved. It was noted that the website is still not functioning correctly. Cllr Brewis offered to contact Cllr Davies.

4. Finance report
a. Membership update – the administrator gave a brief update – fees are still coming in for 2017/18 & 18/19. Balance at 29 June:
b. Expenditure against budget 2018-19 – noted. The administrator highlighted changes to the expenditure as APPRPTG fees were lower than expected and a review of the group is to be undertaken due to lack of support from Members of Parliament

5. Consultations
a. DfT Registration process and appeals mechanism – on response submitted
b. Easier Fares consultation – a response to this consultation was compiled
c. Cross Country passenger rail consultation – Authorities have been asked to forward points for inclusion and a further email will be sent requesting local input to some of the 28 specific questions.

6. Issues from Newsletters
The following items were discussed:
* demand responsive bus service in Oxford,
* The announcement of the operator for the Wales and Borders rail franchise but no details were available
* Airports National policy Statement
* East Midlands Rail franchise tender – concern was raised at the proposals for Bedford, Luton and Luton Airport Parkway stations, which will be pursued
* Crossrail 2: new information is not expected until next year
* Greengauge 21 report beyond HS2 – it was suggested they could be invited to a meeting and the report outlines a strategic rail network plan for the country, not only high speed lines
* Transport Focus National Rail Survey Spring 2018 results

7. LGA Update – noted. Authorities are urged to respond to the consultation on the Clean Air Strategy

8. Future programme & dates 2018
a. Friday 21 September 18 Smith Square – Plenary & Executive meetings
b. Friday 16 November AGM 18 Smith Square

9. Any other business
Arising from the discussion at the visit to Hitachi Rail, a rolling stock strategy is required that provides continuous orders for production. This will be raised with the DfT.

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Plenary meeting 4 May 2018

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Notes of Plenary Meeting
Friday 4 May 2018
Transport House
18 Smith Square
Westminster
10.30 – 12.30

1. Apologies – see appendix 1

2. Presentations & Discussion

Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline process and Market Led Proposals Guidance
Saskia Matthews & Laurence Holding, Department for Transport

The Department for Transport has published papers on how rail enhancement projects will be chosen in future, including a new framework for market led proposals. The Government seeks private sector funding to invest in rail infrastructure without Government support.
Ref: Market led proposals: call for ideas
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/691751/market-led-proposals-call-for-ideas.pdf
Market led proposals: guidance
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/691714/rail-market-led-proposals-guidance.pdf

The Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline will replace the current system of agreeing 5-year enhancement programmes as part of Network Rail’s regulatory control periods. There is to be a rolling programme of investment with 5 stages of activity – determine, develop, design, deliver and deploy – with a formal investment decision gateway at each stage to decide whether to proceed.
Ref: Rail network pipeline – a new approach for rail enhancements https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/691719/rail-network-enhancements-pipeline.pdf

3. Notes of the Plenary meeting 23 March 2018 and matters arising – approved

4. Financial report
a. Expenditure against Budget 2018-19 – noted
b. Balance – £20,452.49

5. Consultations
a. Transport for the North Long Term Rail Strategy – no response submitted
b. Consultation on the use of Section 19 & 22 Permits for road passenger transport in Great Britain – Consortium & LGA responses

It was suggested that the LGA be approached to provide a legal opinion to assist local authorities in identifying the role that community transport can undertake under the new interpretation of the regulations. It will be important to identify, within the revised interpretation, how community transport schemes can operate. There was much concern over the impact this can have on local authorities.

6. Issues to Discuss from Newsletters
Changes to the Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passengers) Regulations 1990 (the Conduct Regulations) enabling drivers to remove passengers from the bus who unreasonably refuse to move when requested from a wheelchair space were discussed. Concern was raised at the position in which this places the driver. The plan to raise the profile of interurban bus services suggested by Greengauge 21 was highlighted. A discussion took place on supported bus services in Wales and free travel on the TrawsCymru network. The southern link to Heathrow airport could be the first market led proposal. The responsibility on local authorities to resolve air quality issues was noted with concern. Mobility as a Service being introduced in the West Midlands could be a presentation for a future meeting. Transport for the North has become England’s first statutory transport body. Local authorities are now attending meeting and are supportive of the concept and an evidence base is required in order to deliver the projects identified. Changes to the bus service registration process with immediate effect were noted and concerns raised at the additional workload upon local authorities. It was outlined that full consultation refers to the local authority acknowledging notification of the proposals, by the operator. The operators shortlisted for the West Coast Rail partnership were noted.
Members commented on the value of the news updates.

7. LGA Update – none provided

8. Future Programme & Dates for 2018
a. Friday 29 June: regional meeting hosted by Durham Council – an email reminder would be sent out to members.
b. Friday 21 September: Transport House
c. Friday 16 November, AGM: Transport House

9. Any other business
It was suggested that it would be useful to invite a member of the Department for Transport with responsibility for rail strategy to a future meeting.
Concerns were raised at overcrowding on some trains due to staffing resulting in parts of the trains being out of use.

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Notes of Plenary Meeting

Friday 23 March 2018

West Midlands Combined Authority

11.00 – 14.30

  1. Apologies

  2. Presentations & Discussion – see appendix 1

  3. Notes of the Plenary meeting 26 January 2018 and matters arising – approved

  4. Notes of the Executive meeting 26 January 2018 – approved
    Attention was drawn to item 3 and members and officers will be asked to comment on consultation responses
  5. Financial report
    1. Expenditure against Budget 2017-18 – noted
    2. Balance – £19,627.49
      13 members had paid subscriptions for 2017-18, and two for 2016-17
  6. Consultations
    1. East Coast Mainline Route Study – no response submitted
    2. Proposals for creation of a Major Road Network – no response submitted
    3. Transport for the North Long Term Rail Strategy – to be submitted by 17 April
    4. DCLG Formula for Revenue – response noted
    5. Use of Section 19 & 22 Permits – to be submitted by 4 May
  7. Issues to Discuss from NewslettersThe following issues from newsletters were discussed:
    The rail proposals by Transport for the North are of interest but concern was raised at the cost.
    Members were advised that the DfT has issued guidance on Advanced Quality Partnership Schemes.
    Concern was raised at the difficulties young people had experienced in trying to acquire 26-30 railcards. Further information will be sought.
    The station ownership management structure of West Midlands Rail should be considered further.
    Temporary changes by Network Rail, to the advance availability of final timetables is expected to end in December 2018.
    Members were advised that rail major projects would be subject to business case approval on an individual basis in CP6, through a pipeline process – further details will be sought.
     

    8. LGA Update none received

    9.Regional meeting & study tour
    Durham offered to host the meeting on 28/29 June. 

  8. Future Programme & Dates for 2018
    1. Friday 4 May: LG House – Transport Focus research
    2. Thurs 28/Fri 29 June: regional meeting – Durham
    3. Friday 21 September: 18 Smith Square, Westminster
    4. Friday 16 November, AGM: 18 Smith Square, Westminster

Any other business – none 

Appendix 1: Presentation & Discussion session

West Midlands Bus Alliance – Linda McCord, Peter Bond

A partnership with multilateral voluntary agreements which has led to improvements for passengers, set up two and a half years ago. The priority was passenger satisfaction levels, setting and exceeding 85%. It was relaunched in October 2017 after recognising a need to refocus objectives; congestion and emissions are seen as a key focus. It aims to make travel easier, especially for young people – by making it easier to find tickets, easier to catch the bus and a more pleasant experience. Network resilience group set up assessing the effect of potential disruption from major projects such as HS2 and the tram network and aims to avoid the relocation of problems from major roads to minor roads and any effects it would have on buses. The Bus Alliance ensures the bus network has a higher priority:
Bus Alliance supports West Midlands Rail – £450m investment locally – reopening the line to Brierley Hill, development of 10 new rail stations in next few years which will affect metro, bus and rail. £150m is for bus rapid transit (SPRINT) by 2021, ready for the Commonwealth games.
Challenges: in 2020 – clean air zone in Birmingham city centre, include demand responsive transport operators. Investment is being made in infrastructure with response from operator to maintain the network. There is concern that BSOG, paid for diesel operations, is not paid for electric buses.

Liverpool City Bus Alliance operates on similar principles and is an agreement between Stagecoach, Arriva, Merseytravel. Merseytravel looking at options in the Bus Services Act to determine what would be useful locally; a fall in passenger numbers has forced operators to talk. Transport Focus role is to look at the impact for passengers. The Liverpool fleet is to be all WiFi equipped. Passengers value WiFi, USB charging points, reliability and value for money. A flat rate fare for young people has increased patronage 140%, with no proof of age requirement for young travellers.

Transport Focus involved in other areas to progress bus improvements – a predictable journey time is seen as a key requirement – Sprint dedicated highway to be provided to achieve this.

West Midlands Rail franchise – Tom Painter

West Midlands Rail is a consortium of 16 authorities – 7 metropolitan authorities plus shire and unitary authorities. The Board has politically nominated representatives with the Chair alternating between metropolitan and non-metropolitan authorities. The objective is to provide local leadership for rail in the wider region.

There has been a modal shift away from car and bus use towards rail: car use dropped 14% since 2001 in Birmingham City Centre morning peak; rail use increased from 17% to 36%.

The strategy includes – single network vision, rail investment, stations Alliance, franchising and partnerships

From December 2017 – March 2026, the management of West Midlands Rail franchise has been devolved to 2 business units with franchise management powers for West Midlands Trains. West Midlands Rail involved in the procurement process to ensure the contract meets the local needs. The brand is to continue irrespective of the operating company.

Capacity for growth; commitment for rolling stock – £700m investment, 400 new carriages increasing from 566 – 706 in 2021 giving 20 thousand extra seats in rush hour in Birmingham, 10,000 for London travel, with WiFi in all trains, a new depot and station improvements.  New service quality regime sets out minimum standards that passengers can expect. There is a target of 90% of travel to be with smart ticketing. There will be new Digital customer information screens which will allow for more flexible messaging. Kenilworth will have a new station, Bromsgrove will be redeveloped. The line to Staffordshire will be electrified; Walsall to be connected to London with one additional train per hour between Shrewsbury and Birmingham. Additional evening and Sunday services are also planned. There is also a proposal for freight only lines to be returned to passenger use.

Station ownership management structure of West Midlands Rail is to be considered further.

Bus Passenger Survey 2017 – David Sidebottom

Results published March 2018. Overall satisfaction in England was 88%. Bus drivers found to be key to passenger experience; Arriva and Stagecoach funding customer service training for all their drivers. Half of all journeys are delayed, primarily due to congestion and passenger boarding time.
Tram survey results are also to be launched.
16-19 year olds have the lowest satisfaction: specific research was undertaken – Google maps is key to providing information – young people don’t want multiple apps on their phones; there is confusion over best fares available for the journey; 50% use buses a few days per week, 25% spend £10 per week. Value for money is seen as the most desirable improvement.
 

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