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Formal meeting (oral evidence session): Rural connectivity

Transport Committee
Rural connectivity

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Start times: 9.30am (private) 9.30am (public)


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Examining the decline in rural bus and train services – Transport Committee holds one-off session 

The Transport Committee will hold a one-off session to examine the quality of bus, train and active travel routes in rural areas across England.  

During its inquiry into the National Bus Strategy, the Committee heard of a number of issues hampering bus services in rural areas, including outdated regulation, reduced funding from local authorities and rising operational costs. 

Central government funding provided to a number of regional bus operators, to help transition out of the pandemic, will lapse in March 2023 after an extension from August 2022. The Confederation of Passenger Transport previously commented that this amounts to a “cliff edge” that “keeps getting moved back six months”. 

The Committee may ask witnesses how and where funding should be allocated and the methodology used to determine which routes and services are the most socially and economically beneficial to their local communities. 

MPs will also ask about the Government-sponsored £2 cap on bus fares outside of London, running between January and March. 

Meanwhile, two-thirds of towns in the south west and north east of England do not have a train station, according to CPRE, the countryside charity, whose Campaigns Manager Chris Hinchliff is among witnesses giving evidence at this session. 

The Committee will ask witnesses, including the MD of Great Western Railway, Mark Hopwood, about progress with restoring a number of railway lines that were scrapped during the 1960’s Beeching cuts. In January 2020, the Government pledged £500 million for the Restoring Your Railway (RYR) Fund. 

There will also be questions about the practicalities of promoting cycling and walking as a means of transport in rural areas, where residents have to travel further to access amenities such as shops and schools. 

Meeting details

At 9.30am: Oral evidence
Work Rural connectivity (Non-inquiry session)
Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment at Dorset County Council
Strategic Director at Transport East
Campaigns Manager at CPRE the countryside charity
At 10.30am: Oral evidence
Work Rural connectivity (Non-inquiry session)
Managing Director at Go South West
Managing Director at Great Western Railway
Chief Executive Officer at Confederation of Passenger Transport

Location

The Grimond Room, Portcullis House

How to attend