Williams: We don't know true accessibility levels in rail

 

The Government has no idea of the true level of accessibility throughout Britain’s 2,500 train stations, the chair of the independent rail review has revealed to MPs.

Keith Williams, former chief executive of British Airways, has been tasked with a root and branch review of Britain’s railway and was speaking to the Transport Select Committee as the review prepares to make its final recommendations in a White Paper this autumn.

He told MPs: ‘We have been looking at accessibility. It has been a learning exercise for me. If one platform in a station is accessible the whole station is considered accessible. We have 2,500 stations in Britain and we don’t really know how many are accessible.

‘We learned the degree of knowledge of accessibility is partly the result of the fragmentation of rail today.’

”Local

He added that there ‘was plenty of money’ to address accessibility but that it was in different pots and needed to be pooled together and invested on the basis of a national action plan.

This could be centred around the major stations and routes into them, he suggested, pointing out that 85 stations carry 60% of passengers.

Mr Williams went on to provide an outline of the recommendations he will make to Government, which he said attempted to set a framework for service contracts that would deliver the best results for the public.

Central to his planning is the concept of a ‘guiding mind’ – a public body that would sit at the heart of the sector with integrated responsibility for track and trains and capable of contracting out services.

Mr Williams was pushed by MPs on the exact nature of this body and though it remained somewhat vague his closest approximation appears to be a national Transport for London type organisation, which primarily contracts out services on a concession basis, but also keeps some services in-house like London Underground.

Mr Williams argued that his recommendations would be flexible enough to allow any government to take forward different strategies of ownership in future, nationalisation or privatisation, while setting up a system that worked for the passenger.

Ending the fragmentation of the system and the argumentative blame culture between its different elements was a key priority, he suggested. He said that his former employer British Airways has an annual income greater that the £11bn of the railways but has nothing like the fragmentation.

He argued that in airways, the type of arguments you find in rail - for instance over who should pay for a delay caused by a bird hitting and overhead wire - were never seen and people were focused on outcomes. 

He also argued local government could have more of a role in deciding future investments but would have to work within a single network system.

In the short-term he said there was a need to produce a standardised, national compensation scheme, which would save money in terms of the economies of scale and provide a clear code of practice as to passengers’ rights.

In the longer-term he said there was a need for a 30-year assessment of the needs of the network and legislative changes would be needed further down the line. He highlighted decarbonisation as one issue that would need long-term planning.

‘Trains last 30 years, if we have decarbonisation targets for 2050, so those decisions need to be considered now,’ he told MPs.

He also reiterated previous points, supported by government he said, that fares, ticketing and franchising all needed an overhaul. He suggested contracts for services could be given a longer timescales to allow more consistent improvements.

Commuter lines could be focused on reliability targets while longer distance rail routes could put more of a premium on innovation, he argued, as part of a system that is adapted to passenger needs..

He had been consulted on the recently let West Coast franchise and said the contract was flexible enough to be in line with the type of new system he was hoping to achieve.

‘We have said the role of the DfT will change and be much more strategic than it is today. Today it is involved in the minutia of many aspects of rail and we don’t see that as our lead option in the future.’

DfT permanent secretary Bernadette Kelly supports the need for change, he said, adding that the ‘government seems favourably inclined to the recommendation’.

He added that the unions and the passengers would welcome change.

 

Also see

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Waste Projects Officer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£29,738 - £36,036 depending on skills
Do you have skills and experience relevant to local authorities, waste management and/or managing projects? London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Environmental Health Officer (Environmental Protection)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£33,799 - £35,934
This role is in the Pollution and Noise Control team, leading the Majors and Project Support team... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Project/Programme Manager (Construction) - 4 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£42,683 - £44,632
This is an exciting and challenging time and we want to expand our team to manage and deliver construction related projects, to achieve... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Community Environmental Support Officer x 5 Jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
You will work as part of a team tackling personal, nuisance and environmental anti-social behaviour to improve the quality of life for... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Environmental Health Officers within Environmental Protection, Health and Safety and Food Safety

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£30,507 - £32,878
We expect candidates to have expertise or qualifications in one or more of the relevant areas of Air Quality, Acoustics and/or Contaminated Land. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Assistant Director

Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council
£92,826 - £111,231
This is an ideal opportunity for an expert waste management professional to make a real impact and to lead the service to outstanding. Fulham, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council

Environmental Health Officer and Grad EHO – Private Sector Housing with benefits*

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 - £42,490
Exciting opportunity for a highly organised and enthusiastic Environment Health Officer or a newly qualified graduate working towards... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Director of Inclusive Growth and Public Sector Reform

West Midlands Combined Authority
£110,000
The role requires someone with a talent for innovation and a passion for designing and implementing public services. West Midlands Region
Recuriter: West Midlands Combined Authority

Vehicle Technician x3

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
All Candidates must hold a clean category C driving licence (CPC not required). Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Ugobus Driver (multiple positions)

Essex County Council
Up to £18938.0 per annum
Primary locations will include Clacton and Harlow only. Please note that we have permanent, fixed term and relief contract opportunities on a part tim England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Corporate Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change

Durham County Council
£148,583
You will manage a range of front-line services including bins and waste, transport, environmental health, technical services, partnerships and... Durham (County)
Recuriter: Durham County Council

Tenancy Enforcement Assistant

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£22.377 - £23.607
Looking for individuals who have an interest in the environment with good customer service skills, flexible approach to work and a good team player. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Head of Programme Management Office

Manchester City Council
£60,857 to £65,865
As the Head of PMO, you will define and maintain standards for project management within the Highways Service. Manchester, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Manchester City Council

Highways Development Specialist

Manchester City Council
£60,857 to £65,865
Seeking a highly capable strategic leader to join the team to develop our strategic pipeline of works and financial model. Manchester, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Manchester City Council

Civil Engineering Technician Apprentice

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£214 per week
Are you looking to gain vital work experience as an Apprentice? London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Assistant Planner/Planner

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £32,878
The ideal candidate will already have... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Principal Engineer

Liverpool City Council
£37,849 - £42,683
The successful candidate will... Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Environmental Health Officer (Food, Health & Safety) & Environmental Health Technical Officer

Dacorum Borough Council
£24,710 to £39,034
You will be highly motivated and be expected to deliver against a challenging work plan. London (Greater)
Recuriter: Dacorum Borough Council

Director of Public Health

Worcestershire County Council
Competitive Salary
We’ll look to you to take responsibility for the high-calibre delivery of... Worcestershire
Recuriter: Worcestershire County Council

Street Cleansing Operative Driver (Large Goods Vehicles)

Redbridge London Borough Council
£22,377 to £23,607
We are looking to recruit staff for both our day service and evening service. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council