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Railwatch 087 - March 2001

Railwatch - Missed opportunity

By Trevor Jones (htjones@raildev.fsnet.co.uk)

For the whole of its existence, Railtrack had missed a huge opportunity to take the strategic initiative, Lord (Bill) Bradshaw told an integrated transport conference in Winchester in January.

Lord Bradshaw, who is a director of the Strategic Rail Authority, said he was in favour of reorganising the railway to allow for vertical integration, where the train operator had control over its own tracks. His chairman Sir Alastair Morton is not.

In a question and answer session, it emerged that Stagecoach is now also in favour of vertical integration but with protection for minor operators.

On sharing tracks, Lord Bradshaw reminded the conference - organised by Stagecoach - that the railway also needs to be available for freight for longer hours and over seven days of the week.

The second speaker Wendy Toms of the Rail Passengers Committee for Southern England said we must not rush in with further re-structuring, before we were sure of getting it right.

People wanted integrated transport and we must remember that most public transport users are also motorists and should not be treated as a race apart.

John Rymer of First Tram Croydon mentioned that they are now retro-fitting their ticket machines to allow Travelcard purchase and were considering how to encourage park-and-ride.

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