Latest Rail News


Transport funding devolution a risk – MPs

Further devolution for local transport services could lead to weakened accountability, the Public Accounts Committee has stated in a new report.

The Committee considered how moving funding for local transport to local authorities could risk poor decisions. The LGA has responded, calling the suggestion of a move back towards centralism a “retrograde step”.

The report found that in 2010-11 councils spent £8.5bn on public transport, £2.2bn funded by the DfT. Another £1.2bn was provided by the DfT for highways maintenance and small transport projects.

It concluded that a lack of monitoring on how un-ringfenced grants are spent means there is insufficient information to determine the impact of the DfT’s contribution to councils’ spending decisions.

The full details of a planned devolution to local government are still to be determined, and the Government cannot yet clearly define how cross-boundary projects will be funded.

The PAC warns that these changes could weaken existing limited accountability and transparency arrangements and stated that they are “not confident that Government has thought through these risks”.

Margaret Hodge (pictured above), chair of PAC, said: “The Department for Transport makes a substantial contribution towards the funding of local transport services, but has no clear way of controlling how this money is used.

“We are not convinced that government has thought through the risks of devolving more control over the funding of major transport projects to a local level. For example, the Department is confident that local bodies will naturally cooperate to fund and implement projects. We believe this confidence may well be misplaced.

“The risk is that local transport bodies, under severe financial pressure, will not take sufficiently strategic and joined-up decisions, threatening national or regional transport funding objectives.”

Cllr Peter Box, chair of the Local Government Association’s Economy and Transport Board, said: “Baseless speculation and insinuation about how councils spend transport funding is a slap in the face to those authorities which are working flat out to fix potholes brought on by recent flooding and freezing weather, facing multi-million pound repair bills while trying to manage severe budget cuts.

“Councils and other local authorities know best the needs of their areas. The PAC’s call for a return to local and regional transport decisions being made by civil servants hundreds of miles away in Whitehall would be a retrograde step.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]

Image c. Labour


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >