Don Foster MP*


While welcoming the intention to provide stability, restore morale and overcome staff shortages, Bath MP Don Foster criticised the ‘late arrival’ of the Strategic Rail Authority’s Ten Year Plan.

Main Image Don Foster, who is also the Lib Dem Shadow DTLR Secretary, commented:

“With passenger delays up 70%, cancellations up 45% and nearly 40% of trains over-crowded, the Strategic plan itself is long overdue.

“However, much of the plan is not new, and there is little additional investment by the Government. Plans to introduce Train Protection and Warning Systems (TPWS) and to buy new rolling stock to replace ‘slam door’ carriages are re-announcements. And little is said about reducing fragmentation, excessive fares or overcrowding.

“Despite the Government’s claim that they will increase public spending in the Railways over the next 10 years, in real terms public expenditure will remain lower than under the final years of the Conservative administration.

“There is still a long way to go before we create a safe, reliable and affordable railway. It is a great pity that the Labour Government wasted five years before taking action.”


Notes to Editors follow…

Notes to Editors

1. Why public investment on the railways is lower under Labour than the Conservatives:

• Liberal Democrat analysis of House of Commons Library figures reveals how Tony Blair was wrong to claim in Prime Ministers Questions on 9th January - in answer to Charles Kennedy - that Labour investment in the first term was higher than the Tories had been.

Hansard, 9 Jan 2024 : Column 537

Mr. Kennedy: The whole country will share the Prime Minister's sense of entertainment about where the Conservatives come from on this issue; there is no doubt about that. In response to my question, however, he said two things. First, he said that in the next few months the problems would be sorted out once and for all. Last February, in reply to me during Prime Minister's questions, he said that the rail services would be back to normal by Easter--one wonders which Easter he was referring to. Secondly, the Prime Minister talks about persistent under-investment, and he is correct--but what about the under-investment during the first four years of this Labour Government?
The Prime Minister: I am afraid that I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman about the first four years of this Government. As I have just pointed out, the figures show that even in our first term, we were spending--in investment, which of course means long lead times for new equipment and so on to kick in--about double what the Conservative Government were spending. Over the next three years that sum will rise to about three times what they were spending. I simply point out to the right hon. Gentleman that not merely are we spending far more than the Conservatives ever spent, and are due to spend more, but we are spending far more than the Liberal Democrats ever asked us to.

• What the figures actually say:

- Public Investment in the railways has been lower under Labour than the Tories: As the table below shows, total public expenditure in the 5 year period 1996-01 was just £8.7bn, compared with £14.0bn in the previous 5 years (1991-1996).

- Spending will continue to be lower: Labour claim that they are to increase public spending in the Railways over the next 10 years. In real terms however, as the table below shows, public expenditure will continue to remain lower than under the final years of the Conservative administration.

- 10 year strategy heavily dependent on private investment: What the table reveals is how heavily dependent the Government is on private investment. If this does not come forward in the way expected - and present uncertainty caused by the unnecessarily extended period of administration for Railtrack increases this risk - then the whole plan will be undermined.

Private and Public Railway Expenditure: Historic and Planned 1991-2011 (£bn, 1999-00 prices) [NB: Calculated at the time of the 10 year plan - April 2000]
Public Resource (inc. Revenue Support) Public Investment Total Public Expenditure Private Investment Total Investment

1991-96 6.7 7.3 14.0 0.2 14.2
1996-01 8.5 0.2 8.7 11.4 20.1
2001-06 6.1 7.5 13.6 16.7 30.3
2006-11 6.1 5.2 13.3 13.0 24.3

1991-01 15.2 7.5 22.7 11.6 34.3
2001-11 12.3 12.7 24.8 29.7 54.5
NB: Some figures may not total due to rounding errors. Source: Calculated from 10 year Transport Plan, DETR 2000. Supplied by House of Commons Library, 2001.

• What does the £4.5bn of ‘additional’ spending really mean?

- Some additional investment now - but cuts later: Public investment in 2001-06 will increase by some £4.5bn - up to a total of £18.1m, but as this is being brought forward from the later section of the plan this will mean that just £8.8bn of public expenditure is allocated for the railways in the period 2006-11. This is £5.2bn less than under the final period of the Tories - £1bn less per annum.

- Much of the money is not new, but had simply previously been brought forward to bail out Railtrack over one year ago: In October 2000, the Government announced that they were to increase the public money paid by the regulator to Railtrack by £900m, to a total of £4.7bn over 5 years. This money was not new money however, but has been brought forward from the later period of the 10-year plan (2006-2011) to bail it out.

- Much of this money will still go into clearing up the mess of Railtrack: Early cost indications of the cost of creating a new ‘not for profit’ company for Railtrack is still likely to go in this direction and take up the vast majority of this ‘extra’ funding.

How does the total investment under the 10-year plan compare to the final years of the last Conservative Government?

• The £180bn figure of the 10-year transport plan is all spin, with very little new public investment - just £1bn per year extra.
The Government’s ten year Transport Plan comes with an eye-catching headline figure of £180 billion. However, this represents £157.6 billion at current prices. Much of this goes on public resource expenditure. Only £103 billion is for new investment, of which £48 billion depends on private sector participation, which is likely to prove more difficult to realise than the Government has suggested. Thus only approximately £55 billion is committed public investment, which amounts to just £1 billion more per year than the Conservatives were investing in the last years of Tory government. Again the plan is heavily dependent on private investment.

2. The Government’s failure to deliver on improvements at stations:

The Secure Stations Scheme: 76 years for delivery at the current rate

• SRA announcement is nothing new: The announcement that the SRA Strategic Plan will seek to make improvements to security and facilities at stations is nothing new - indeed the ‘Secure Stations Scheme’ to do just this was launched on 27th April 1998.

• 76 years to get all stations up to standard: In over three years the scheme has failed to gain a high public profile, and that there remains a widespread feeling, particularly amongst vulnerable groups, that public transport stations are unsafe. In the time of its existence just over 4% of the 2500 stations have been accredited. At this rate of improvement it will take nearly 76 years before all stations are brought up to standard.

• Liberal Democrats have long argued for action: The Liberal Democrats have long argued for the need to speed up the rate of progress, pressing the Government for long over a year to launch a safer stations charter which would speed up the process of accreditation, including a requirement within the process of franchise renewal.

League table of Train Operating Companies and Safer Stations
Operating Company Total Number of Stations Run Percentage (and number) of Accredited Stations Number of years full accreditation reached at present rate
1. c2c 25 100% (25) None - Already Reached
2. Railtrack 14 100% (14) None - Already Reached
3. Eurostar 2 100% (2) None - Already Reached
4. Midland Mainline 8 38% (3) 5 years 8 months
5. South West Trains 86 34% (29) 6 years 8 months
6. Thameslink 27 33% (9) 6 years 10 months
7. Great North Eastern 12 8% (1) 37 years 7 months
8. Chiltern Railways 26 8% (2) 41 years
9. Connex South Central 161 4% (7) 75 years 2 months
10. Great Eastern 56 4% (2) 92 years 3 months
11. Connex South Eastern 178 3% (6) 97 years 11 months
12. Wales and West 206 3% (6) 113 years 11 months
13. Silverlink 86 1% (1) 290 years 5 months
14. Island Line 8 0% (0) Never
15. West Coast Trains 17 0% (0) Never
16. Great Western 20 0% (0) Never
17. Anglia Railways 47 0% (0) Never
18= Arriva Merseyside 66 0% (0) Never
18= Cardiff Railway 66 0% (0) Never
20. Thames Trains 71 0% (0) Never
21. West Anglia Great Western 98 0% (0) Never
22. Arriva Northern 248 0% (0) Never
23. Central Trains 253 0% (0) Never
24. North Western Trains 308 0% (0) Never
25. Scotrail 332 0% (0) Never

Total (Rail) 2500 4% (108)* 75 years 7 months

London Underground 246 1% (3) 276 years 9 months

NB: CrossCountry (Virgin) and Gatwick Express do not operate any stations; *1 other accredited stations is operated by other companies: St Pancras (London and Continental Stations and Property Limited)

• Further details on the Secure Stations Scheme
The Secure Stations Scheme covers all over-ground and underground rail stations in England, Scotland and Wales which are policed by the British Transport Police. It aims to implement a package of security measures including: secure fencing, good lighting, clear signs, CCTV surveillance, increased staff presence and rapid response in emergencies. Stations also have to display low crime rates over a sustained period, and conduct passenger opinion surveys (see for further details).

• The Labour Government have not previously felt the need to set any targets for the secure stations scheme
A letter from David Jamieson (30-8-01), DTLR Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, to Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrat DTLR Spokesman) admitted that:

“the Government have not set targets for the number of stations to be accredited under the scheme.”

• There are great variations in the rate of progress of accreditation between train Operating Companies - 12 have none
Research conduced by the Liberal Democrats reveals wide disparities between Station Operators (Train Operating Companies and Railtrack) in the number of stations accredited - and the rate at which this is taking place.

12 of the 24 companies have no accredited stations, and at this rate will never see all stations accredited. On the other hand all stations operated by c2c and Railtrack itself (all 14 of which are major stations) have been accredited.

London Underground has just 3 of its 246 stations accredited, a rate at which It will take just under 277 years to reach accreditation.

• Research on Perceptions of Personal Safety at Stations
Results from Government research [Perceptions of Safety from Crime on Public Transport, DETR 27.4.98] found that:

- Public transport users feel least safe when they are waiting for services.
- 22% of respondents said that they would make more journeys by public transport if security measures were introduced, with 40% of the extra journeys for social purposes and in the evening.
- Measures to improve personal safety would result overall in an eleven percent increase in trips by public transport.
- Respondents rated the following as the most effective safety measures at train and underground stations: (1) Good lighting; (2) Presence of staff; (3) CCTV to provide surveillance.

• Liberal Democrat Proposals - ‘The Safer Station Charter Mark’
Our proposed “Safe Station Charter Mark” would be a better, more public version of the ‘Secure Station’ Initiative currently being run. The scheme will give an added incentive to private companies to improve stations and will be a good way of informing the public of improved security. The charter mark would:

- Set minimum standards in the installation and monitoring of CCTV cameras, lighting, staffing levels, and secure parking at rail stations, key bus stations and key transport interchanges.
- Require the majority of rail and key bus stations would be required to achieve Charter Mark status in a 5 year timescale.
- Require train operating companies to commit to invest in meeting Charter Mark standards in future franchise arrangements.
- Introduce fines for companies to meet the 5-year deadline for accreditation, set at a level as to encourage accreditation.
- For the first time, encourage bus stations to achieve the standard through Quality Partnerships with Local Authorities.

3. Promised 1700 “New” trains to replace old rolling stock are already on order and late, and may not work - overloading the network

Stephen Byers and the SRA’s target for replacing Mark I Slam Door Rolling Stock

• Stephen Byers has given a deadline for all Mark I Slam Door Rolling Stock to be replaced by 1st January 2005 (as revealed in an answer to a written parliamentary question of 19th December 2001 from Don Foster MP)

Commons Hansard Written Answers text for Wednesday 19 Dec 2023 Column: 530W

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what is the date by which all Mark 1 passenger carriages will be replaced, broken down by (a) vehicle stock and (b) train operating company. [23527]
Mr. Jamieson: All Mark 1 stock must be removed from the network by 1 January 2005.

Mark I Rolling Stock is unsafe

“Of the 106 train collisions that occurred this year (2000/2001) 58 were due to trains colliding with an open door on a slam door train.” [Health and Safety Executive, Railway Safety Annual Report 2000/01, p.94]

Rate of replacement of Mark one rolling stock to date

Train operating No of No of new Date No No still No needed
Company mark 1(1) Ordered (2) Due (3) in service (4) waiting (5) per week (6)

c2c 112 296 2002 80 216 0.72

Connex 558 210 2000 16 194 3.62

First Great 100 84 2002 0 84 0.64

First North 32 70 2000 37 33 0.20

Scotrail 61 198* 2001 6 192 0.39

South Central 536 240 2001 0 240 3.48

South West 579 921 2004 56 865 3.75

Total 1,978 2019 0 195 1830 12.84

(1) Number of Mark 1 slam door stock vehicles currently running on the rail network.
(2) Number of new rolling stock orders by train operating company since 1994
(3) Date by which new rolling was or is due to enter service, from the SRA Annual report
(4) Number of new rolling stock ordered by train operating companies all ready in service as of 1st June 2001, from SRA Annual report
(5) Number of new rolling stock ordered by train operating companies which are still to enter service as of 1st of June 2001
(6) Number of Mark 1 slam door stock vehicles to be replaced per week from the week beginning 21 January 2002.

* Scotrail has a number of Mark 1 and Mark 2 stock which is not slam door but is due for replacement also by 2005

Why Railtrack will be unable to upgrade the lines in time:

According to industry magazine Modern Railways (January 2002), in order to reach the target of replacing all Mark I by January 1st 2005, Railtrack will need to upgrade the power supply to enable the new trains to run as they require higher levels of power to operate without overloading the system. However, Railtrack have simply not had enough notice to upgrade the power supply in time for the new trains to arrive. In the meantime, they are committed to £1044m worth of trains ordered that may not be useable for another 3 years at the minimum (see table below).

Train Company* Train type* No. of trains ordered** Estimated Capital Value of new trains** No. of trains delivered (01/06/01)**
South West Trains Class 458 and Class 450 Desiro) 785 £650 m 56
Gatwick Express Class 460 64 £45 m 56
Connex South Eastern Class 375 Electrostar 210 £163 m 16
Connex South Central (franchise now run by GoVia) Class 375 Electrostar 240 £186 m 0
* From Modern Railways, pg 25; ** From SRA Annual Report 2001, pg 31

South Central (formerly Connex South Central under old franchise, who ordered trains), Connex South Eastern and South West Trains all have to replace old Mark 1 rolling stock
Total number of trains ordered: 1299
Total capital value: £1044m

Southern Region says that it will take another 6 months before even the scale of the upgrade is begun to be known:

“Southern reckons that another six months’ work will be needed to define the scale of the upgrade and all that can be said at present is that it will cost many tens of millions of pounds.” (Modern Railway magazine, January 2002)

Railtrack was provided with details of the upgrades needed for the Class 375 (Connex) in December 2000. For the Desiro (on SWT) the problems are not even yet known, because the performance characteristics have only just been provided by the manufacturers.

There are 630 sub-stations and track paralleling huts that will need upgrading. Getting the equipment for upgrading in time is unlikely to be a problem, but finding the manpower will be much harder.
(Source: Modern Railway magazine, January 2002)

4. The Liberal Democrats will hold an Opposition Day debate in the House of Commons on the way forward for Britain’s rail network, on Wednesday 16th January 2002 at 3.30pm.

This article published: 18/09/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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