Signpost to public transport

UK: City regions have been sidelined in the government’s plans for rail reform, according to the Urban Transport Group of transport authorities, which has called for them to be given a statutory role in managing and developing the rail network.

UTG said it welcomed many of the proposals in the government’s consultation on legislation to implement the Williams-Shapps Plan, but ‘the consultation is silent on the integration of rail with the rest of the transport network, especially in the city regions’.

It believes the government should give city region transport authorities a ‘clear and statutory’ role, so that their local expertise can be used in managing, planning and developing the rail network, with further devolution of services and infrastructure where appropriate.

UTG said the proposed industry structure ’is highly centralised, and there are no clear routes set out through which communities, and those representing them, will be able to influence the management and future of rail services, stations and infrastructure in their areas’.

UTG represents Transport for Greater Manchester, Merseytravel, Transport for London, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Tyne & Wear’s Nexus, Transport for West Midlands and West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and acts as a wider professional network with associate members in Strathclyde, the West of England, Tees Valley, Nottingham, Northern Ireland, Wales and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

‘Although there has been significant engagement throughout the rail reform process, it is frustrating that when it comes to the documentation that the role of city regions is ignored or sidelined’, said UTG director Jonathan Bray on August 4. ‘Especially so when one in three journeys are made on partially or fully devolved rail services and when devolving responsibilities for rail to devolved authorities and administrations has been one of the few rail success stories of recent years.’

Bray said ‘rail reform needs to look outwards to people and places and not become an introverted exercise. Railways are not an end in themselves and in the city regions they need to form part of wider integrated public transport networks and our role in making that happen needs to be recognised.’