Sunday, 16 March 2014

FRIST makes further submissions to Transport Committee

FRIST has made a further submission to the House of Commons Transport Committee following the giving of oral evidence on 3 March (still available to watch here). You can view the new submission  here.

The earlier FRIST submissions can be viewed here (Sep 2013) and here (Feb 2014). 

The Council of the IOS made submissions to the Transport Committee (no link available).  All submissions are expected eventually to be  available on the Transport Committee website here (latest documents posted dated Aug 2013).


  1. Marian Bennett's submission:
    Why are the young not mentioned? Are they able to afford to buy and stay on the Isles?
    Should "(currently isolated from UK rail system)" be "(recently isolated....)"?
    Should subsidized travel "just about all of it" be "the majority"?
    "We compare how well and readily the Scots protect this aspect..." does not make sense - where is the comparison? - it seems to be in a place disconnected to this statement.
    Suggest that one never uses terms such as "possibly" and "appears" as this lessens the credence of the statement.
    Why is there no mention of a helicopter service? I understand that land has been made available in Penzance for a new helipad. This is a major influence in people visiting the islands - it is convenient, quick and a significant part of the holiday experience.
    I would appreciate answers to the above and not in "political speak" - just straightforward responses.

  2. The purpose of the supplementary memo to the Transport Committee was answer issues not adequately answered in the two earlier inputs and to follow up on answers to questioning on 3 March. It was not intended to be an entirely standalone document.

    FRIST campaigns on the issue of transport links between the islands and mainland. There is a raft of other issues (social, economic, political and environmental) worthy of pursuit but the critical issue is inadequate transport links because of the social and economic impact of ignoring it. Different age groups have different issues but just about everybody has problems. If we labour the issues of the disabled it is because some cannot travel at all in the winter months. On the matter of housing costs we mention it in the opening lines but it is not a transport issue. The biggest impact of not finding a solution to the transport problem will be the loss of economic opportunities for working age people - many more will be forced to leave the islands for work.

    The risk of being absolute in statements where you have incomplete knowledge is that you can be absolutely wrong. It is better to allow wiggle room and retain credibility with the reader. Using absolute statements leads to a dogmatic style which can alienate readers. There is inevitable speculation when considering the future impact of transport problems on the community and the island economy.

    The reference to "Scots protect this aspect" is referring to the role of island communities in Scotland and their prominence in the Scottish identity. There is an affinity between mainland Scots and Scottish islanders which is not found in England - the Scots care about their island communities. Scottish politician recognize and respond to this. The island community of Scilly (and the Isle of Man) is seen as 'separate' and by many (rightly or wrongly) as 'privileged'.

    FRIST wants affordable, reliable all year around transport links. It has avoided being dogmatic about the solution. Helicopter is by far the most expensive form of transport and there are no examples of this solution being used for scheduled services to remote islands in Scotland or other comparable islands in Northern Europe.
    There is a risk in pressing for a subsidized helicopter service that it will be deemed a gold plated solution subsidizing wealthy visitors. There is also the competition issue - Skybus would be seriously undermined by a Govt subsidized helicopter service.

    The official position of the Isles of Scilly Council is that it is not seeking a subsidized service (given in evidence to the Transport Committee by the IOSC Chief Executive on 3 Mar 2014). This is not policy the island community have been consulted upon and it is likely to have dire consequences in the future as FRIST does not believe the current ferry can be replaced without some form of subsidy.

    Thank you for your interest. Feel free to ask more questions.

    PS The rail system in Cornwall is isolated from the rest England because of the Dawlish problem. The connection is due to be re-established on~ 3 Apr (there are coach services bridging the gap).

  3. Further to our previous long comment....
    FRIST provides support to proposers of subsidized helicopter services and is currently doing so. We avoid making a new helicopter service the cornerstone of our case for Government intervention (a PSO) because it is so expensive and easily 'rubbished'. by Govt as a luxury service. .

  4. Thank you for an excellent response. My comments are from the perspective of a long term visitor to the Islands, the journey to which was made extra special by using the excellent helicopter service. My support of reintroducing this service is based on the above and the fact that I have many friends on the Islands who I know now find travel back and forth to the mainland a challenge in both time and money; for example a visit to the mainland hospital. Can fixed wing planes be used in an emergency or is there a helicopter that can be called upon? Following our exchange, I undertook some Google research to seek alternative methods of visiting the Islands and find that an affordable air service runs from Lands End - the train/fly option from my area - Gloucestershire - is tortuous so driving to Lands End is the most straightforward. It then occurred to me that I had not seen a great deal of advertising of the alternative routes and wonder if a targeted campaign to previous visitors would pay dividends and help reverse the downward trend of holidaymakers? Perhaps a pooling of names and addresses held by hotels, guest houses, B&B's, self catering establishments and helicopter booking records would from the basis of a concentrated email and direct mail promotion campaign? I will look forward to reading more positive updates and news.