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I do not believe the transport sector delivers value in the UK

3 min read

I would empower the Transport Committee to come up with ideas for change so we can make a positive contribution and improve transport for all, writes Huw Merriman MP

I am standing to become the next chair of the Transport Committee. I’ve been a member of the committee since 2015. I am nominated by Lilian Greenwood, the previous chair, and all of my fellow Conservative, Labour, SNP and DUP committee members.

I do not believe that the transport sector delivers value in the UK. Too many revolving doors and a lack of competition, accountability and responsibility causes our constituents to receive a poor service and provision.

We can do better. The committee is respected across the sector. By coming up with ideas for change, we can make a positive contribution and improve transport for all. This will only happen if we find a way through the walls of resistance.

As chair of the Transport Committee I would:

  • Forensically probe the performance of Government departments, agencies and industry.
  • Hold ongoing inquiries on long-term transport projects (such as HS2 and Heathrow).
  • Ensure we consider environmental, economic and community costs.
  • Seek ideas from MPs as to inquiry topics, bring the committee to constituencies impacted, and communicate our key findings and recommendations so MPs can use them in casework.
  • Use my positive relationship with existing committee members to work as a team and ensure our inquiries cover areas which are relevant to devolved parts of the UK.

It’s important that all modes of transport are scrutinised. Rail rightly gains attention in Parliament, but three out of five public transport journeys are undertaken by bus.

Routes are disappearing. I proposed, in our report, that a bus route should become an ‘asset of community value’ – meaning, like pubs, the service would have to remain running for six months to encourage new providers to step in and save routes before they vanish.

 I’ve also championed changes to require bus services to be retained where essential public services, such as GP surgeries, are on a route.

To innovate, I’ve proposed legislation which would require transport operators to automatically repay compensation to customers.

Train operators are compensated by Network Rail where it causes delays. Yet two-thirds of eligible rail passengers impacted by these delays do not claim.

My bill would require the train operators to ringfence this excess for technology which would allow the customer to tap on, and off, a train. Any compensation for a delay would automatically be credited to the customer without the need to apply for it (or even be aware). That same process should be available to airline and ferry passengers.

Having served for five years on the Transport Committee, under two brilliant chairs in Louise Ellman and Lilian Greenwood, I understand the importance of this post in Parliament.

Being on the Transport Committee has been the most fascinating aspect of my time as an MP. I am keen to continue, to take a step up, and further represent all of us in Parliament.

Huw Merriman is Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle

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