Britain's railway is notoriously disconnected. But does it matter if each franchisee optimises its own services and resources and pays scant regard to what its neighbours are doing ? Would the country be better off with a network organised to afford Swiss standards of connectivity ?
PTN has long argued that these questions merit rigorous analysis - but as yet to no avail. A complex organisation and fragmented and legalistic timetabling processes have apparently sub-optimal outcomes for capacity, for operational efficiency and for passengers, but the industry claims countervailing benefits and rejects any idea of a new structure.
Ultimately the argument goes to the question: is the railway just another 'supermarket' business or is it an important part of the social fabric, there to secure accessibility for everyone in the community and to do so in a truly sustainable manner ?
Since the Government's Command Paper ignored these issues PTN wrote to the Secretary of State to put the case both for an independent study and for a National Timetabling Authority [NTA]. The aim would be to resolve present anomalies and conflicts and work toward the re-creation of a real sense of a national network. The NTA would work by consensus and devolve its tasks wherever appropriate.
The letter to Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Transport is here :
Transport Secretary letter.doc.
The Department's response was mildly encouraging and so PTN followed it up. The documents can be found here :
An accompanying discussion paper explains how it is envisaged an NTA might work, but it also outlines how policy changes by the Department and by ORR might achieve better-integrated timetabling in the immediate future without the need for major changes in organisation. This is backed up by some examples of why the outcome of the present processes is unacceptable.