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Lib Dems: Remove DfT from rail investment decisions

The Liberal Democrats have called for the Department for Transport (DfT) to be removed from making everyday decisions on rail, including where to target investment in the system.

At its annual conference this week, the party said a new railway agency should take on those functions from the DfT as well as some from the Office of Rail and Road.

The new agency would take responsibility for planning new investments and should include representatives from Network Rail, the Rail Delivery Group and the Local Government Association in addition to passenger groups, the party said.

The Lib Dems also confirmed that it supports large-scale infrastructure projects including Crossrail 1, Crossrail 2 as well as HS2 and HS3, but called for increased public scrutiny regarding the project expenditure.

Greater rail electrification, the installation of renewable power generators such as solar panels and wind turbines to be fitted in next to rail lines, were also mooted.

Railway Industry Association chief executive Darren Caplan said the ideas introduced by the party were “interesting and welcome”.

He added: “To deliver these projects, the Lib Dems would also need to commit to consistency of upcoming work [and] ending ‘boom-and-bust’ in rail funding.”

He said that the industry needed a better visibility of forthcoming upgrade projects too.

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