Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision Type: Key
Decision Status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to Call In?: No
The Cabinet Member for Leisure and Strategic Transport and the Board Director, Commissioning presented a joint report setting out the work undertaken since February 2012 to progress Swindon Borough Council’s priorities on rail, particularly in respect of the Great Western Main Line. (Minute 94 2011/12 refers.)
Councillor Keith Williams, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Strategic Transport, commented on the work being undertaken to seek to influence decisions being taken on rail issues affecting Swindon and to work with Bristol City Council and Cardiff Council to promote the Great Western Main Line Corridor.
Councillor Mark Dempsey commented on the serious impact of high rail fares both for local commuters and for the growth of the Swindon economy. He enquired what action had been taken to work with local MPs to lobby the Government on the issue.
Councillor Julian Price acknowledged the concerns over fares but highlighted there were other significant benefits that could result from improved rail services. He referred to the establishment of rail halts in commuter and new development areas where this was possible. This would have a significant effect on Swindon’s traffic problems. He enquired why Swindon was seeking to work only with Bristol and Cardiff on such issues.
Councillor Bob Wright referred to the disparity in charging bands implemented by the rail companies. In particular that it was cheaper to buy a ticket to Didcot and then from Didcot to London than to buy a ticket from Swindon to London. This, in his, view was a completely unacceptable situation.
Councillor Williams thanked Councillors and Cabinet colleagues for their comments. Despite the Council’s best efforts Network Rail remained unconvinced and unsupportive of establishing commuter halts. He commented that in respect of new developments he believed that rapid bus transit offered a more flexible answer than a fixed rail based solution. He explained that the Council had entered into a memorandum of understanding with Bristol and Cardiff Councils in view of a number of mutual interests around their position on the Great Western Main Line / M4 corridor.
Councillor Garry Perkins, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Culture, commented on the meetings that had previously taken place with the local Members of Parliament and Government Ministers on the rail fares issue and that he was sure this lobbying would continue.
Resolved – (1) That the work undertaken since February 2012 to progress Swindon Borough Council’s priorities on rail, be noted.
(2) That the Board Director, Commissioning be authorised to undertake further co-ordinated lobbying on the matters of economic development through the Memorandum of Understanding between Bristol City Council, Cardiff County Council and Swindon Borough Council and the joint working of officers, Councillors and local Members of Parliament towards the same objectives.
(3) That the Leader of the Council, along with the Swindon Members of Parliament, be requested to continue to raise the matter of the current level of fares to and from Swindon rail station with the Department for Transport at every appropriate opportunity, in order to maximise the advantage for Swindon residents and businesses of a cheaper rate of rail travel in the future.
The reasons for the decision and alternative options are as set out in the report to the meeting.
Report Author: Head of Commissioning - Economy / Attainment
Publication Date: 20/07/2012
Date of Decision: 11/07/2012
Decided at Meeting: 11/07/2012 - Cabinet
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