Train Operating Company Contracts Debate

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Department: Department for Transport

Train Operating Company Contracts

Lord Birt Excerpts
Monday 25th March 2024

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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I have to declare that I am a regular traveller on Great Western Railway services and appreciate much of what the noble Baroness says. Cancellations, especially those made close to the time of travel, can be very inconvenient, preventing passengers travelling with confidence. When trains are regularly cancelled, this can disrupt people’s lives. That is why the department holds operators to account for cancellations. The scrutiny and penalties depend on the reasons for these cancellations, as well as on how close they are to the planned time of travel and therefore how much they inconvenience passengers. However, I am not aware of any arrangement that the department has with GWR in relation to cancellations.

Lord Birt Portrait Lord Birt (CB)
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My Lords, last year, my wife and I spent a delightful three weeks in Japan visiting the ancient cities and gardens, travelling extensively by bullet, regional and local trains. We laughed increasingly loudly as every train, without exception, arrived on time, exactly to the minute. By contrast, almost every wait at a UK train station—including my journey here today—is punctuated by computer-generated announcements of delay and cancellation. In the last 12 months, 33% of UK trains have failed to arrive on time. One in 30 trains has been cancelled. Why can we not run a railway as well as the Japanese?

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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I take the noble Lord’s point. The Secretary of State visited Japan recently and looked closely at its operating systems. Let us hope that we see an improvement to the extent that we can operate our service equally well.