Transport Secretary to face MPs on HS2, Network North, the Plan for Drivers and net zero policies
Transport Secretary Mark Harper faces questions from the Transport Committee on the Government’s recent policy announcements and a range of ongoing issues from across the sector.
In his first appearance at the Committee since April, MPs grill Mr Harper on the contents of the King’s Speech as it relates to transport. Whilst containing planned legislation on self-driving vehicles, which the Committee supports, the legislative programme did not contain a comprehensive Transport Bill as initially promised in the last parliamentary session, meaning long-awaited policies in other areas have not been included.
There will also be questions on progress with establishing Great British Rail, originally slated to begin operating in spring 2024. However, the King’s Speech contained plans for only a draft Rail Reform Bill.
The cross-party Committee will want to probe the economic case for scrapping Phase 2 of HS2, how the rest of the project will be delivered, and to what extent new projects that form parts of Network North will represent value for money and a joined up strategy that delivers capacity benefits and promotes modal shift. There will also be questions about whether the Government ignored warnings about delays and cost increases at earlier stages of developing HS2.
MPs will seek an update on regulations for the rail sector following the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023. The Committee is due a formal response from DfT to its report on this issue later this month and it will want to hear how the report’s recommendations have shaped new regulations that will determine staffing decisions during industrial action.
Other issues such as the Plan for Drivers, the change in the target for phaseout of sales of diesel and petrol cars, backlogs at the DVLA, active travel investments and Bus Service Improvement Plans, may also be raised.