This morning, there has been a flurry of news stories based on the report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, which says commuters face “already unacceptable” levels of overcrowding on trains.
Firstly, this is happening now. Whatever solutions are put in place, people won’t wait 15 years for a brand new railway line, which might solve a few of the commuting problems in one particular area. People’s solutions might involve changes to the rail system, or to the amount of telecommuting: alternatively commuters may decide driving their own car is the best option for them individually. Whatever the solution is – people won’t wait 15 years to be given one.
HS2 won’t help anyone traveling the majority of commuter lines, whether it’s local services into Bristol, or Brighton commuters heading into London.
In addition, and rather surprisingly given all the promised investment, the Department for Transport don’t know the exact number of passengers using different commuter services.
Philip Hammond has again acknowledged that “We currently have one of the most expensive railways in the world, which is unfair on both farepayers and taxpayers, reflecting poor incentives to control costs across the whole industry.
“As the committee rightly says, this situation is not sustainable. We have to reduce the costs of our railways, so that both taxpayers and farepayers get a better deal.
“That is why Sir Roy McNulty is leading a review into reducing rail industry costs and why we have begun a wholesale review of rail franchising.”
Philip Hammond is asking for a review of the costs of British railways, but not waiting for the answers as he pushes a scheme for building an extremely expensive railway.