Letter to The Times: Cut the bureaucracy, open the lines now

Sir,

The process for reopening railway lines as currently set up is cumbersome and slow. It will take at least half a decade, and probably more to see any of the schemes proposed in the ‘reopening Beeching’ programme to see the light of day. They have to have a good ‘business case’ and then go through Network Rail’s incredibly bureaucratic but aptly named GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects).

Therefore if the government is serious about stimulating the economy with investment in these schemes, it should throw caution to the wind. Do a quick back of the envelope assessment and then hand out the money – some, of course, will be wasted but probably less than paying for consultants to spend months or years working out detailed but often wrongly-argued business cases. Just look at the success of the Borders Railway south of Edinburgh which has greatly exceeded expected passenger numbers and all the consultants’ predictions.

 

Christian Wolmar