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Author Topic: OTD - 14 Jan 2002 - Strategic Rail plans - a lesson as we look ahead in 2022??  (Read 190 times)
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« on: January 13, 2022, 09:14:56 pm »

I am posting "On this day" in our "Looking forward - after Coronavirus to 2045" today. Although the "checkpoint" date is 20 years ago, I look back at the historuy of what was promised 20 years ago, and how it fell apart within a couple of years from that date. We really must hope that history does not repeat itself, but there are startling similarities in industry regulation.

From The Guardian

January 14 2002: The strategic rail authority unveils its 10-year strategic plan for the railways, including a £4.5bn investment in new trains, improved station facilities, track repair and signalling work.

From WikiPedia

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA» (Strategic Rail Authority - about)) was a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom set up under the Transport Act 2000 to provide strategic direction for the railway industry. Its motto was 'Britain's railway, properly delivered'. It was abolished by the Railways (Abolition of the Strategic Rail Authority) Order 2006, its functions being absorbed by the Department for Transport or the Office of Rail Regulation (now the Office of Rail and Road).

OK .. so that is the "history".

In many ways, it sounds like a "GBR (Great British Railways) 0.9" ... as I understand it GBR 1.0 is to be a public body to provide strategic direction for rail.

I attended a the Rairfuture webinar on Tuesday, listening to the likes of Chrisian Wolmar, Ian Brown and Stewart Palmer overviewing and giving their thoughts on the current and future of the UK (United Kingdom) railways, to Steve White (MD of SouthEastern) and Suzanne Donnelly, Comercial Director of the GBR Transition team.

I was struck by the very real current issues highlighted by the industry speakers - of cost rather than subsidy control, of micromanagement, and of scrambling round to provide a service for captive traditional markets rather than being attractive to people who have the option and look for new markets - a system indeed which provdes no incentive to grow back better.  And then in contrast Suzanne talking about a future that puts the passenger first, simplifies the fare systems, and so on - very much nebulous "jam tomorrow" lacking specifics and riddled with (to me) confusion, and quoting examples that seem to go in the opposite direction.   She had a difficult case to present, and has a tough job, but even allowing for this I was underwhelmed and am worried.  I hope she and her colleagues prove in due course that my fears are groundless.

Twenty years ago on this day, we were sold a positive plan by the SRA. But within 4 years we (taking our Melksham example) had lost 60% of our trains, leaving a skeleton service that wasnt fit for (any) purpose.  Let's be better aware of the risks this time around and make sure that we recover to BETTER not BATTERED.

Stewart Palmer introduces ...

The webinar background ...


Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
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