§ Baroness Thomas of Walliswood
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are aware of any plans on the part of Railtrack to exclude trains other than those with tilt mechanism for the fast lines on the West Coast Main Line after the year 2005; and if so, what the implications of such plans might be:
- (a) in terms of the availability to compete of operators using conventional trains; and
- (b) for train services to Northampton. [HL3745]
§ Lord Whitty
The Passenger Upgrade 2 (PUG2) agreement requires Railtrack to carry out works on the West Coast Main Line which will enable tilting trains to travel at speeds of up to 140 mph. Even when the project is complete, conventional trains will not be able to negotiate curves on the route at speeds above 110 mph without causing discomfort to passengers.
The original draft agreement proposed exclusivity (with some specified exceptions) in the daytime for use by high speed operators. In his conclusions on PUG2, the Regulator required all such references to be removed. However, it is likely that there would be operational problems if more than a very small number of conventional, common, non-tilting trains were to be run on the same lines as faster, tilting trains. In terms of the specific questions:
- (a) Regardless of which line they run on, conventional trains will be slower than equivalent tilting trains on lines with significant curvature. Depending on the market they serve, this may affect their ability to compete;
- (b) The approval process carried out by the Regulator for PUG2 involved an agreement by Railtrack to specific commitments to capacity and service characteristics for trains to Northampton as well as on other affected sections of the route.