Rail infrastructure, inspection and maintenance, is reserved to Westminster

Herald

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has released a new Interim Report covering their findings of the Stonehaven rail crash. Back on the 12th August 2020, a ScotRail HST collided with washed-up debris near Carmont following heavy rainfall, resulting in the death of three people (the driver, conductor and a passenger), as well as causing injury to six other people.

Data from 1T08 showed that it was travelling at 73mph, less than the permitted 75mph.

https://www.railadvent.co.uk/2021/04/stonehaven-rail-crash-raib-release-new-report-into-fatal-accident-caused-by-stones-on-the-line.html

The following night on BBC Scotland’s The Nine, 14 viewers saw

James Cook, repeatedly interrupted the Scottish Transport Secretary, Michael Matheson to say:

Well, exactly! Well, that’s rather the point! Isn’t it. We hear that there are these problems. In 2014, a report specifically mentioned this exact area being greatly affected by earth-slips. A report last month warned that there had been over six times more flooding events in the year to 2019/20 and earthworks failures nearly trebled. Did you read that report? And if so, what action did your government take on it?

For whatever reason, Matheson did not expose Cook’s misrepresentation of the responsibilities for rail infrastructure and allowed him to burst in again with a further implication.

Let’s be clear. Rail infrastructure, the track, the signals and related hardware, and critically, the prevention of landslips onto the track, is a reserved matter, presumably in case the UK Government ever feels the need to use it for some strategic purpose which the Scottish Government might object to and try to obstruct.

Full responsibility for the funding, the maintenance, the inspection and the warning to operators of risk, lies with the UK agency Network Rail which in turn is responsible, only, to the UK Minister. The report was a report for that UK minister and though the Scottish Government may or may not have received a copy, it could not have acted upon it.

Why was Cook not aggressively asking Grant Shapps, the UK Minister for Transport, the questions he misleadingly threw at Matheson?

Today, years later, why is the Herald misleading its handful of readers?

17 thoughts on “Rail infrastructure, inspection and maintenance, is reserved to Westminster

    1. Herald just like to TELL LIES ABOUT THEIR COUNTRIES MANAGEMENT OF RAIL

      THEY LIE THAT WESTMINSTER ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE
      AND THEY WONDER WHY SALES IN THIS ONCE GREAT GLASGOW HERALD
      ARE NOW FAILING DUE TO ENGLISH OWNERS
      BEING TOLD BY WESTMINSTER TO RUBBISH AND MISLEAD
      ALL MATTERS IN SCOTLAND
      ON DOING SO THEY WILL RECEIVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT
      TO STOP LIQIDATION

      Like

  1. If you read the rather long article in the Herald right to the end you do get some indication that funding comes from the UK Gov to Network Rail and cuts to that funding have impacted the funding available for Scotland’s rail infrastructure. Of course it depends on people reading right to the end and being able to ‘see’ the less than explicit explanation about funding.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Aye and ‘indication’ is them trying to be balanced and not lie 100%…
      I read not long after that terrible and tragic accident due to landslide, that there was an actual problem with that part of the track had been reported and it was completly ignored. If you dig deep you will find most if not all infrastructure cash is diverted to England.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my Son in Laws held a position of considerable responsibility in Network
    Rail
    And has many a tale to tell
    Needless to say that such was the one and only reason he terminated his employment
    And transferred his considerable abilities and skills to other areas of civil engineering
    Make what you want of all this
    But a Nod is good as a Wink

    Liked by 3 people

    1. SCOTLAND’s SHARE OF ANY FINANCES WITHIN RAIL NETWORK
      Is the First to Be CUT
      ALAWAYS
      HENCE THIS MANSLAUGHTER DUE TO HUMAN INTERFERENCE
      IN MANDATORY MAINTENANCE

      Liked by 1 person

        1. How scary to hear that…the English government do not care if people die in Scotland, in fact, as we all know they use it to bash the SNP and sadly many folks still believe their lies and misinformation about the powers they keep a tight rein on.

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          1. ArtyHetty
            It involved a incident that avoided multiple certain death with less than a few seconds left
            Luck prevailed
            Records were falsified to avert proper blame

            Like

  3. Alas, our colonial media is doing precisely what colonial media does.

    Keeping us down, with lies, obfuscation, propaganda and sheer British nationalist effrontery.

    No doubt a knighthood or CBE is winging its way north (of the North).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Often puzzled at the attention Sturgeon & co get at the hands of the English controlled media especially when it seems from recent polls that a fair %, if not a majority, of English people see Scotland as a liability, as burden on the tax payer and would be happy to see us leave the UK. In an interesting article by Peter Jukes of DD news I guess they perceive Sturgeon in the same way as Corbyn given their mass appeal as a real threat to disrupting the class structure of the UK and therefore must be destroyed at all costs. In the lead up to another Indy referendum we can only expect these attacks from both spectrums of the media to intensify and I would implore those of your readers to join the many campaigners on the ground as the only effective means to combat this fake news. Regretfully we did not have TUS as a reliable source to add weight to the arguments in 2014 and will be an essential part of this next time.

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  5. The reader cannot avoid being influenced by the second paragraph on the front page, which opens “According to Scottish Government budget data…”.

    In that respect Martin Williams is no different to James “We’ve seen the emails” Cook, implication of blame is the sole objective.

    I do recall Cook’s aggression toward Michael Matheson in that interview – Though Matheson may in hindsight regret not pulling Cook up on the distortion, I frankly doubt he’d have been allowed to finish and deft editing would have erased the rest, they have form on that.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. As Bob Lamont writes above: “The reader cannot avoid being influenced by the second paragraph on the front page, which opens “According to Scottish Government budget data…”. Indeed!

    If the SG has a budget line for this then presumably it ‘buys’ something with its (our) money and so the notion that ‘funding comes (only) from the UK Gov to Network Rail’ can’t be the whole story!

    For this interested in detail, it helps to delve into this source: ‘Scottish Budget: 2022-23 – Level 4 Data’ (https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-budget-2022-23/documents/)

    We learn here that the SG’s Net Zero, Energy & Transport portfolio has four distinct budget line items for ‘rail services’: (i) Major Public Transport Projects; (ii) Rail Development; (iii) Rail Franchise; and (iv) Rail Infrastructure.

    £427 million in the 2022-23 budget is assigned to ‘Rail Infrastructure’. The purpose of this is further explained: ‘Supports the costs of maintenance, safe operation and renewal of the Scottish rail network.’ In the 2020-21 budget the figure was £501 million, i.e. there has been a decrease of 14.8%.

    The budget spreadsheet from this same source has a column headed: ‘Explanation of significant changes from previous year’. The entry for the £427 million for Rail Infrastructure states: ‘Reflects profile of Network Rail grant funding for Control Period 6.’

    Control Period (CP) 6 is Network Rail’s term for the period of its current agreement on grant funding from Westminster and Scottish governments: it spans 2019-2024.

    Returning to the Level 4 Data, the spreadsheet entry for ‘Major Public Transport Projects has an allocation of £247 million for 2022-23. This is up 42.8% on financial year 2020-21.

    The same source notes the purpose of the budget for Major Public Transport Projects: ‘Network Rail Enhancement grant for improvement to rail infrastructure and other network and associated rail improvements’. The explanation given for the change from the previous year is: “Change in profile of expenditure for projects’.

    Note the use of the term ‘profile’ when explaining both budget line changes.

    Then from Network Rail’s Annual Report and Statement of Accounts (2021), on grant income (to cover both revenue and capital spends) it receives from the Westminster and Scottish governments we learn: “Grants related to operations, maintenance and renewals are recognised in-year.’

    And also: ‘Grant income has been agreed across the five-year funding settlement and is drawn down to augment the other sources of revenue in meeting the in-year operations, maintenance and renewals expenses.’

    And more specifically on revenue grants: “These grants are drawn down by Network Rail against grant agreements based on forecast cash flows of relevant expenditure and are DEFERRED until that expenditure is incurred. Deferred grant income is then credited to revenue on a systematic basis during the period in which Network Rail recognises the related costs as expenses for which the grants are intended to compensate.’ (my emphasis)

    My suspicion then is that year-on-year fluctuations in the SG’s allocated budget to support Network Rail activities is – specifically within the 5 year period of CP6 – is influenced by Network Rail’s project scheduling and thus its spend profile. But without ‘insider knowledge’ or primary research I can’t be absolutely certain.

    For further context:

    – from 2014-15 to 2000-21 the Scottish Government’s total annual spend (actual ‘outurns’) on rail services has increased from £708.3 million to £1,581.0 million. The budget for 2022-23 has been set at £1,396.9 million. The budget for the current FY is £1,339.8 million.

    – Network Rail is a company limited by guarantee. It is also a public sector arm’s length body, so it’s part of the UK Government. As it doesn’t have any shareholders, it has one ‘member’ namely the UK Secretary of State for Transport.

    The things that TuS prompts one to do to pass a wet Thursday afternoon!

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