Rail 2014 Consultation Analysis

9 Rolling stock

Q31 What alternative strategies or mechanisms could be used to reduce the cost of the provision of rolling stock?

Table of responses

Popular themes

  1. - Increase use of electric trains/electrification of more lines
  2. - Government should own rolling stock/Act as a Rolling Stock Operating Company (ROSCO)
  3. - Lengthening of train life (perhaps by refurbishment)/refurbish existing stock

Key themes

9.1 There were two key suggestions in response to this question: there should be an increase in the use of electric trains, including electrification of more lines; and that the government should buy and own its own rolling stock.

9.2 Respondents thought that the Scottish Government has been relatively successful in the past when it came to buying and renewing rolling stock and as such should be responsible for taking the lead in the future by procuring stock. It was also suggested that this could work with the Scottish Government buying the stock and then leasing the stock to the franchisee at a reduced rate, thereby cutting costs and lease prices.

"The government should buy it outright and lease it to the operator. Huge sums of money are wasted in financing the purchase of new trains by Rolling Stock Operating Companies (ROSCOs)."
Public Response

9.3 Further electrification of lines in Scotland was also raised as a potential strategy to reduce costs. A significant number of respondents suggested that electric trains are lighter and cheaper to produce and buy and, therefore, by extending electrification, future costs could be reduced and then minimised by their operation. This would also enable current stock used on the main commuter lines to be refurbished and perhaps reallocated to other lines to replace older fleets.

"Introducing used rolling stock might be more cost effective than purchasing new trains. Where electrification is introduced on routes, diesel units that become surplus to requirements should be allocated to other routes e.g. West Highland Line that require replacement rolling stock or as an alternative to refurbishing existing trains which will eventually be replaced by electric units"
Argyll and Bute Council

9.4 A sizeable proportion of respondents thought that the rail operator should be the one to purchase stock and should also have a say in the design and procurement of stock. This would allow a consistent fleet of vehicles to be produced which could then be used across routes.

9.5 Another possible strategy suggested by respondents was the lengthening of train life, by either buying better quality stock built to last longer, or by refurbishing existing train stock. Respondents identified solutions such as cascading stock from one route to another as new stock is introduced. Respondents stated that by refurbishing this stock, the lifetime of the train could be extended, thus reducing the overall cost of rolling stock.

9.6 Other possible strategies suggested by smaller groups of respondents were to continue leasing, to investigate lease purchasing, limiting the companies/bodies involved to the government and the franchisee, and finally looking at the potential to introduce money-making strategies such as carriage sponsorship or using carriage exteriors for advertising.

Organisational and individual responses

9.7 Organisations and individuals agreed on two of the three key themes identified in the answers to this question. Increased use of electric trains was particularly championed by community councils and local authorities, although other sub groups also supported this theme. Economic and business groups and one trade union thought that the Government should own the rolling stock or purchase new units through ROSCOs.

9.8 The main difference between responses from organisations and individuals was on lengthening train life with refurbishment. Proportionally speaking, more organisations (particularly rail groups) than individuals stated this would be worth considering. Individuals were, however, more inclined to suggest that ScotRail should own the rolling stock.

Q32 What facilities should be present on a train and to what extent should these facilities vary according to the route served?

Table of responses

Popular themes

  1. - Toilets (clean/accessible)
  2. - Buffet facilities/Food services/Restaurants
  3. - Cycle and luggage provision

Key themes

9.9 Question 32 relates to what facilities should be present on a train and to what extent these facilities should vary according to the route served. The consultation document outlined the findings of research carried out for Passenger Focus in 2010[1] about passengers' concerns for rolling stock, and these typified the common responses received.

9.10 This question led to a large number of wide-ranging responses, with most indicating that the facilities required do vary by route and type of service. There was also a general opinion that much of the rolling stock could be better allocated.

9.11 The large range of different suggestions for facilities required by service type and route does not lend itself to summary. However there were a number of facilities which were repeatedly identified (all by more than 100 respondents) and these are as follows, in order of how frequently they were identified:

  • toilets which are clean and accessible - generally there were suggestions that these should be provided on all trains or all trains except for those on very short suburban journeys
  • catering services, normally in the form of buffet facilities or restaurants - these were typically suggested for longer journeys including inter-city journeys (such as Glasgow - Edinburgh) but more frequently longer distance journeys (such as the East Coast and Sleeper services)
  • provision for cycles - again this was most frequently suggested for longer journeys and tourist routes, although a considerable number said that all trains should be able to accommodate cycles. Additionally, many respondents said that the policy regarding carriage of cycles should be amended to remove the uncertainty surrounding whether they will be allowed on board trains or not
  • provision for luggage - similar to cycle facilities, this was most frequently suggested for longer journeys or tourist routes

"Passenger facilities are more important on long distance journeys than on local commuter trips. In particular, a toilet, luggage space, information, space for bicycles, on-board catering, and staffing should be standard. On rural routes consideration might be given to vending machines, or provision of services being franchised to third parties."
The South West of Scotland Transport Partnership

9.12 Below this top 'tier' were a number of other facilities identified by a high number of respondents, and these tended to be less dependent on the route or type of service. Again they are listed in order of how frequently they were identified:

  • Wi-Fi access was important to a high number of people, and within this group were respondents who included a good or improved level of mobile phone coverage
  • comfortable seats were also frequently identified, with a high number of respondents saying they should be aligned with windows to maximise passengers' views
  • provision for the mobility-impaired, with many respondents drawing attention to access requirements or the need for wheelchair spaces within carriages
  • temperature control, in the form of air conditioning or heating
  • power sockets to allow for the use of laptops and charging of phones were a common request with respondents noting that, particularly on longer journeys, the train provides a good opportunity to work
  • passenger information is important to many, with many respondents suggesting audio and visual announcements
  • provision for prams with most respondents stating there should be room to store them in carriages
  • leg room was important to many, respondents often stating that current provision is inadequate

9.13 A number of overarching themes came through in the responses. For example, many respondents identified the need for shared spaces which could be used by wheelchair users and to store luggage, cycles or prams. Others suggested the re-introduction of luggage carriages for long-distance journeys.

9.14 In a similar sense, some respondents thought that rolling stock should have variable seating layouts which could be used to modify the seating and storage provision based on the length and type of journey being undertaken.

Organisational and individual responses

9.15 Responses were broadly similar between organisations and individuals. Proportionally slightly more individuals than organisations suggested toilets being clean and accessible as the most important facility, however this was still an important theme for organisations, with all sub groups of organisations commenting on these facilities.

9.16 Organisations on the other hand, in particular local government groups and Regional Transport Partnerships, were more inclined to prioritise cycle storage provision.

9.17 The availability and provision of catering was an important consideration for both individuals and organisations with most sub groups of organisations providing comment on this facility.