Sunday, 14 November 2010

Villiers vignettes - Operational Transport Use

Proof positive, were it needed, that Civil Serpents have no understanding of the operational railway.

The soon to be abolished British Railways Board (Residuary) is rushing to flog off the family silver before the quango is consigned to oblivion.

One of the biggest pieces of land that remains in its portfolio is the former Derby Railway Technical Centre site which extends over 11 acres and which BRB(R) has put on the market for £16m.

But what's this?

Although most of the site is used for offices about a third is rail connected and is in operational transport use.

As well as a number of rolling stock engineering businesses dependent on the rail connected site the RTC is also home to Network Rail's Infrastructure Monitoring Fleet, which is so critical to the railways assurance regime that if the monitoring trains failed to run the network would be shut down.

So concerned about the sale is local lobby group the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum that is has issued the following statement:

"We are concerned that the sale of the RTC Business Park contains no protection for the rail-connected facilities at this important site.

"Were these facilities to be lost it would have an enormous impact on the skills base offered, particularly in the field of specialist rolling stock engineering."

Of course in the Age of Austerity nothing must stand in the way of balancing the books - not even clearly issued Ministerial Directions and Guidance.

This from the Saviour of the Jammy Dodger only last week:

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Plaid Cymru)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for the land in the ownership of BRB (Residuary) Ltd when that body is abolished.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)
BRB (Residuary) Ltd will continue its agreed programme to dispose of land that has been determined to have no further operational transport use on terms that deliver the best value for money to the taxpayer.

Any land still held by BRB (Residuary) Ltd when it is abolished will transfer to the direct ownership of the Secretary of State for Transport.

So if the RTC is viewed as having 'no further operational transport use' then what rail connected site does?

Eye is confident that Waterloo International, also a part of BRB(R)'s property portfolio, will make a truly splendid hotel!