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Minutes of South West Rail APPG

Below are the minutes for the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rail in the South West, which took place on 15th July.

 

All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rail in the South West

Minutes of Inaugural meeting, 15th July 2014, 6pm,
Grand Committee Room, Westminster Hall

 

Present: Ben Bradshaw MP, Lord Berkeley OBE, Lord Teverson, Baroness Crawley.
In attendance: Hugo Sumner and Caroline Elsom (Anne Marie Morris MP’s office), Jonathan Roberts (JRC).

Apologies: Oliver Colvile MP, Rt Hon the Baroness Corston, George Eustice MP, Andrew George MP, Stephen Gilbert MP, Baroness Jolly, Lord Myners, Rt Hon the Lord Owen CH, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Rt Hon the Baroness Royall, Alison Seabeck MP, Gary Streeter MP, Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP.

1. The purpose of the APPG was set out in the attached annex.

2. It was confirmed that the meeting was quorate and had been properly advertised.

3. Apologies had been received from 13 Members and Peers.

4. A list of 35 Members and Peers who had consented to be APPG members is attached.

5. It was agreed to establish the APPG, and to proceed to election of officers.

6. Ben Bradshaw was proposed as Chair, by Lord Berkeley. Agreed.
Vice-Chairs were proposed by Ben Bradshaw as: Oliver Colville, Andrew George, Anne-Marie Morris. Agreed. Their consent was confirmed on 16th July 2014.
Lord Berkeley was proposed as Secretary by Lord Teverson. Agreed.
Lord Teverson was proposed as Treasurer by Ben Bradshaw. Agreed.

7. Ben Bradshaw confirmed that he would be the registered contact with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. His office would put in hand the formal registration of the Group.

8. The APPG invited Jonathan Roberts (JRC) to support the Group in advisory and secretarial matters. Jonathan Roberts accepted with thanks.

9. Ben Bradshaw asked Jonathan Roberts to set out some of the potential early topics for the Group to consider. He proposed:
• Resilience issues, where the West of Exeter report by Network Rail had been published that day, and would be included in the Great Western Route Study to be circulated for consultation in September 2014.
- The economic consequences of the past winter had been considerable. The region required adequate resilience for now and future years. The sea wall was only one of the current topics.
- The APPG could review the analysis and recommendations, seek briefing, and discuss and raise matters. On behalf of Lord Berkeley, Jonathan Roberts had attended the briefing in the Lords at lunchtime. A short note of that would be circulated to members. Network Rail documents were available at:
http://www.networkrail.co.uk/publications/west-of-exeter-route-resilience-study (this is the full study)
http://www.networkrail.co.uk/publications/west-of-exeter-route-resilience-study-presentation.pdf (this is the slide presentation)
• Growth and its implications for new and improved services, facilities, and station and line capacity.
- A summary analysis of changes in rail passenger demand at stations showed faster-than-average growth in many parts of the South West, over the past 5, 10 and 15 years. The analysis would be circulated, with data by section of line and by station, and listing the constituencies served by each station including the wider catchments.
- The APPG could consider the specification for the new GW franchise, priorities and expenditure plans within the current and future investment periods, and what else might merit priority.
• New trains and electrification were potentially important elements within that context, for a more effective railway in the South West.
- At present, towards the South West, Great Western electrification was planned to cease at Bristol and Newbury. The South West Trains route via Salisbury was not electrified beyond Basingstoke. Both routes had older types of trains.
• The wider economic and social case for rail. Transport was a means to an end. Transformation of public transport demand in places such as London and other city regions, with good marketing and facilities such as Oyster, enabled broad changes in travel preferences and area economic activity.
- Rail was capable of being trusted for individual lifestyles, community priorities, inwards business investment and external promotion.
- The recent (7th July 2014) Growth Fund announcements across England included investment for wider economic purposes.
- The South West’s wider case for rail merited stronger evidence. For example, the valuations of project benefits in the West of Exeter resilience report were based primarily on journey time savings and other ‘narrow’ values, not potential wider project impacts.

Members welcomed the topics. The top priorities were seen as following up on resilience, and understanding the evidence for the wider case for rail. Jonathan Roberts was asked to prepare an initial note on the wider case, during the recess.

10. It was agreed to disseminate summaries of proceedings and recommendations, unless there were private or reserved topics. Similarly, APPG officers could invite a broader attendance at meetings, if desired.

11. The next meeting was proposed for the first two parliamentary weeks in October, when both Houses were back. The Secretary of State for Transport would be invited to discuss the resilience topic.

12. The meeting concluded at 6:30pm.

 

Purpose of an APPG for railways in the South West

 

(Discussion note circulated June 2014)

It has been proposed that an All Party Parliamentary South West Rail Group be formed.

This is part of a chain reaction to the area’s severe transport difficulties last winter which have had profound economic consequences. Damage to the Dawlish sea wall and flooding across the Somerset Levels were disastrous locally and regionally, interrupting communications, and damaging reputation and forward investment via tourism and business plans. There was other disruption as well. Recovery is still underway.

The underlying objective is to help channel the wider sense of purpose now existing across the South West, to place the region and its constituent areas strongly on a better connected and funded transport infrastructure, that will underpin economic growth, ‘gross value added’ and social inclusivity.

Rail will be an important part of overall transport solutions, alongside digital communications and specialisms, knowledge and science expansion. The geography embraces the Great Western/M4 and SWT/A303 corridors, the ‘Far South West’ counties and unitaries, and within the West of England city region and the Severn Valley‘s south western counties.

So that we focus on what it ‘says on the box’, it is proposed that the APPG’s terms of reference should be:

“To examine issues concerning rail facilities and infrastructure in the South West, and rail’s role in enabling economic growth, a sustainable environment and social inclusivity, to raise awareness of those issues among parliamentarians and provide a focus for discussion and debate, and generate recommendations for the government, Parliament and other bodies to consider”.

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