Government Debate Creates Unrest About Rail Investment

Criticism surrounding the government rail investment of around £40bn this period has surfaced as the government's response to its latest report on infrastructure was published. A fiery debate between the committee and DfT ensued which has not yet been resolved.

Committee chair, Lilian Greenwood states “it has nothing to say on the long-term cost-effectiveness and wider sustainability benefits of railway electrification.” Perhaps the most poignant issue addressed by the committee is the lack of interest shown surrounding regional funding biases.

The innovative strategies we have been avidly following at Millian are also a growing concern as Greenwood continues the matter, “it provides very little detail on how it plans to implement emerging traction technologies such as battery and hydrogen power.”

DfT Responds

The Department defended their case, claiming their methods “are based on robust and evidence based processes that show the value for money of different investment options.”

Ms Greenwood remains unsatisfied on behalf of the committee as she quoted, “these responses are disappointing in several respects” honing in on the “unwillingness to engage.”

The debate was initiated by the cancellation of several electrification projects last year, such as that of Northern Midland Mainline, Cardiff and Swansea and Oxenholme and Windermere. DfT claims these services are unaffected with passenger benefits provided through other means.

The debate remains unsettled with both parties’ adamant — this has caused a media uproar and popular discussion about what the Financial Times has now coined the ‘accountability gap’.

Subsequently, this series of events has spiralled into the consideration of a full government review to determine how British railways are run. Not all individuals agree with this approach such as shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, who claims “long-suffering rail passengers don’t need a review to explain to them that the franchising system is broken beyond repair.”

Despite the outcome, we anticipate that this outbreak will shape the state of rail in 2019 when we prepare for other upcoming changes such as the release of CP6 (Control Period 6) funding. If you want to join the discussion you can visit Millian now and book your table at the leading industry introduction on the topic.

Published: 29th September 2018