The Planning Officers Society is grateful for the opportunity to respond to the Department for Transport's consultation on rail decentralisation.
Franchise contracts underlying most train services in England are specified, funded and managed centrally by the DfT based in London. The Government is seeking views on whether improved outcomes for passengers and transport users might be achieved, as well as reducing the cost to the tax payer and providing better value for money, in some cases if decisions relating to local rail services were made closer to the communities they serve.
We are generally supportive of Government proposals to devolve spending decisions from national to local level. However, there is clear recognition within the consultation of the difficulties that this presents for rail services within current structures.
We believe that it remains incumbent upon Government to maximise the wider economic and environmental benefits that accrue from Britain's railways within the funds available and that, excepting the examples highlighted in our response, this is best achieved by continuing to organise, maintain and improve the rail network as a national asset.