pteg expressed its concern today over clauses in the Railways Bill (published today) which would remove the PTEs’ powers to plan and manage local rail networks. pteg is concerned that passengers will be the losers if a strong element of local control of local rail networks is abolished in favour of remote control from Whitehall.
Kieran Preston, Director General of Metro, and Chair of pteg said:
‘The Government has said that it wants to devolve more responsibilities for local rail networks to regional bodies like the PTEs. We welcome that - which is why we are baffled by a Railways Bill which will take away the powers we already have over local rail networks, and puts them at the Secretary of State’s discretion. PTEs are locally accountable transport bodies with thirty years of experience of delivering public transport solutions for the city regions. It makes no sense to throw that away and hand over the planning and management of regional rail networks to unaccountable civil servants in Whitehall who lack the local knowledge and expertise.’
PTEs are currently co-signatories of local rail franchises in their areas. This gives them the authority to invest in improving local rail networks, and to work with operators to resolve problems as they arise. The Railways Bill would remove those powers. Instead PTEs will only be given franchise powers at the Secretary of State’s discretion.