Department for Transport
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Government boost to support new and improved local rail services
Passengers in many parts country could benefit from a new approach to Government funding of new local and regional train services Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon announced today
The Department for Transport could take over long-term financial support for new or enhanced rail services that are promoted successfully by local authorities and Passenger Transport Authorities.
Many local authorities have found it difficult to take forward improved services because of the potentially high running costs involved. Under this new approach, after a successful trial period, local authorities could ask the DfT to consider supporting the services through a franchise agreement.
For example, Blackburn and Darwen councils would like to get a new off-peak Blackburn to Manchester service running for passengers every half hour, under a proposal being developed with Network Rail and Northern Rail. Other initiatives which authorities are looking at include a new service between Burnley and Manchester and improved services in the Tees Valley. If services, like these, prove successful they could be funded through franchise agreements.
To benefit from the new arrangements, the new or enhanced service would have to have been run successfully for the first three years and show good value for money.
The Government could then decide to take on long term financial responsibility for these successful services, easing the burden on local authorities and ensuring the continued operation of a service which is benefiting passengers.
Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said:
"This new approach could bring real benefits for passengers by encouraging local authorities and train companies to work together to introduce new or improved services.
"The availability of funding should provide the encouragement local authorities are looking for if they believe there's a sound case based on passenger demand for improving a service or bringing in a new one. "
To take advantage of the new scheme local authorities must first identify the best way of meeting a local transport need. If a train service offers the best solution and has support from the rail industry, the local authority must then show that the rail scheme has a business case, secure the necessary start-up capital funding, (through sources such as the Regional Funding Allocation), and commit to funding the service for at least three years.
If successful the new service could then be included within a franchise agreement, guaranteeing its future operation. Services which have proved successful could get funding from April 2014, from a budget set in 2012.
Notes to editors:
1. Initiatives might include new or improved services during weekends or late at night, or more frequent off-peak services in rural or semi-rural areas.
2. Existing services are funded through a franchise between the Government and train operators.
3. Conditions related to the funding of new or enhanced train services from April 2014 can be found here http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/strategyfinance/revisedpolicyfunding
4. Interested parties should contact the Department for Transport for more information.
Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk