To consider the overview of the process for shaping train operator business plans for the 2024/25 financial year.
Lead: David Hoggarth
5.1 Members received the report from the Head of Strategic Rail who highlighted the key points in the report.
5.2 The Chair introduced the item by stating that this is an opportunity to consider how the North can support improving the railway rather than merely restoring it to a stable position. He explained that that the North is being told that this will be difficult financially and he encouraged the committee to challenge a whole country planning approach as cuts to services in the north mean whole communities can be left isolated. He stated that the conversation should be about improvement and highlighted the strong recovery to rail in the north.
On the issue of timetabling, he highlighted the success (in terms of performance) of the December 22 timetable change stating that the industry was seeking a 20% reduction in lateness and that the achievement has been 40%; he believes that approach taken may have been over cautious.
5.3 Cllr Hinchcliffe highlighted the importance of the social impact highlighting the fact that stopping rail services and disconnecting communities from growth is damaging for the economy and country.
She then highlighted a number of services within the West Yorkshire area that had been taken out of the timetable and sought assurance that these services will be replaced if there is capacity to do so. She also sought a commitment that there will be no further changes or detriment to services in the December 23 timetable.
5.4 The Chair suggested that the position needs to be reviewed as to the areas which suffered detriment in December 2022 and if there is any funding availability, then the industry should be asked to look at the scope for reinstatement of services. On the issue of funding this he stated his belief that there is some scope for efficiency as both operators are now under the operator of last resort (OLR).
5.5 Lord McLoughlin suggested that there should be an opportunity to look for revenue growth which will help to provide other services that are needed. He also highlighted the opportunity for station redevelopment with both providers now under the operator of last resort. He stressed the importance of grasping and developing this opportunity.
5.6 Mayor Driscoll stated the importance of making things simpler for the travelling public with transport being integrated leading to increased passenger numbers and greater revenue.
5.7 Mayor Coppard welcomed the direction of travel and recognised that there may not be a return to pre-Covid positions with a return to all services that existed previously. He did however request that progress be made to the return of some of the services in his area and stated his willingness to engage with operators to achieve this.
5.8 Mr Richard George highlighted the importance of prioritisation of leaders in the north to the process. He stated that the priorities of the North are very different to those involved in the business planning process in the DfT. He stressed the importance of the North’s ... view the full minutes text for item 5