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Railwatch 087 - March 2001

Railwatch - Regional Rail

By Ian Walker (ian.walker2@virgin.net)

The Rail Passenger Partnership fund is designed to give initial support to rail passenger schemes which may be slow to start, the Regional Rail 2000 conference heard.

The partnerships usually involve the local authority and always a sponsoring Train Operating Company. Schemes are evaluated using cash flow predictions and the financial risk is borne by the Train Operating Company, an SRA spokesman told the conference at York in November.

However, benefits are not restricted to the fare income; traffic decongestion, accident reduction and local economy boost may all be taken into account.

The scheme is managed by the Strategic Rail Authority and in some cases competes with the refranchising process for Train Operating Company resources. However, Northern Spirit has been one of the most successful bidders for Partnership funding.

Some suggestions are made for improvements to the scheme but as usefully, examples of successful schemes Bikes and Trains, the Anglia Crosslink service from Colchester to Basingstoke and a project to improve station access are described in the paper.

The voluntary sector was considered important in identifying imaginative schemes proactively, influencing partners and generating support.

The conference - organised by TR&IN - was also attended by representatives from trainmakers Alstom and Adtranz, and Railtrack.

Railtrack is the biggest partner in Sunderland Direct, the Metro extension scheme which will bring improved travel opportunities for many in the Tyne & Wear area and will enhance social and economic opportunities, supporting the overall development of the region.

Four stations will be improved and eight new ones provided. The system, due to start trial running later this year will be unique operationally in the UK and has already attracted worldwide interest.

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