Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Line closures are ‘Plan B’ of rail costs review

The man in charge of a government review examining how to cut rail industry costs has warned that lines may close if savings cannot be made.

Sir Roy McNulty, who is leading a value for money review, which is being jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Office of Rail Regulation, said that network closures represented “Plan B” to reduce costs.

Stressing that he was concentrating on Plan A – to reduce costs through greater efficiency – he denied that a list of possible closures had already prepared.

Speaking at the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum last week Sir Roy said that his research had uncovered more issues than he had expected, adding that the industry was suffering from poor cost control and was being hindered by a lack of clear objectives from government.

“There is also very little innovation, which surprised me in an industry where a substantial part is run by the private sector,” he said. 

“We are investigating whether the present structure of the industry is stifling new ideas.”

A scoping study from Sir Roy, a former chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, published in July, stated that total taxpayer contribution to the railways was £5.2bn in 2008/09, compared to £2.3bn, in today’s prices, in 1993/94.

Sir Roy has already produced preliminary findings for the DfT to inform its decisions in the Comprehensive Spending Review, and he confirmed this will be made public this month.

His final report is expected in April next year.

This will be followed by the DfT outlining “detailed proposals on delivering a sustainable railway including reform of Network Rail” in November 2011.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Closing lines again considered – has no one learned anything since Beeching? (who was instructed to carry out the closures, not necessarily his own best judgment).

    If railways are regarded as a liability, especially with the current boom in demand, what on earth can the UK run for itself? What went wrong? We need some lines re-opened, to make a comprehensive network, mostly east-west ones and further north than London.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • David Williams

    "never believe anything until it has been officially denied" - which leaves me convinced that a list of possible closures is exactly what does exist and worst, the union response will be industrial action which will play straight into their hands. Great!

    When the lines are closed, for the sake of future generations, please try to preserve the right of way. Had these been held after Beeching we would now at least have a network of routes suitable for cycling and low speed low power electric vehicles and electrically assisted bicycles.

    Whatever happens, we don't want any more busways.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.