Rail capacity utilisation
Consultation by the Strategic Rail Authority
Summary of Key Points:
Scarce capacity should be allocated fairly among all types of service including freight and local passenger trains. Frequency reductions, especially of stopping services, could easily trigger a spiral of decline. The SRA need to be clear whether they will seek to maximise patronage or revenue when resolving conflicts.
A wider range of options for increasing capacity should be considered, including minor infrastructure work such as junction improvements, resignalling or extra platforms, measures to reduce station dwell times, coupling trains, and so on. Merging franchises does not of itself create new capacity.
Adequate margins should be retained, so that performance is not jeopardised and users' confidence lost. Recovery time, especially at journey's end, is currently often excessive. The financial penalty system for late running should be reviewed, so as to ensure that connections are not lost unnecessarily.
Author: Mike Crowhurst with assistance from Richard Pout. November 2002