WELCOME TO MY WEBSITE!



I set up this personal website over nine years ago to present a simple account of what I do.
Parliamentary Questions and Debates catalogues my work in the House of Lords.

You can also read about my other interests and various issues which concern me.

Richard Faulkner / House of Lords / London SW1A 0PW

COVID-19: FINANCIAL MARKETS

25th March 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

The Government obviously have no responsibility for what is happening in the American markets, but are they watching closely the reports of the short-selling activities in the financial sector, which are having an even more devastating effect than in this country? Are there any lessons that we should learn from the experience in America?

A link to the complete Hansard here

COVID-19: CHARITIES

24th March 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I remind the House of my railway interests, as declared in the register. The Minister will be aware that the heritage railway sector has effectively been wiped out for the whole of this summer season by the emergency. However, will she commend a worthwhile initiative which the HRA—the trade association—has taken to help Network Rail with its laudable aim to keep trains running for the next six months under government control? The heritage sector is volunteering its members, who are retired railway staff, particularly signallers and station staff, to help Network Rail. Will the Minister encourage Network Rail to take up this offer and, maybe, encourage similar groups where volunteers are available and skilled to take on work in the national interest?

A link to the complete Hansard here

COUNTY LINES DRUG TRAFFICKING

19th March 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

Does the Minister agree that the work of the West Midlands Police and West Mercia Police in Operation Ballet, led by Detective Inspector Julie Woods, has been exemplary? It led to convictions at the Worcester Crown Court last Friday of 13 individuals who had operated a county lines ​scam starting in London, going to Birmingham New Street station, and then spreading out, with couriers and local people in the towns of Herefordshire and Worcestershire; these towns are not normally associated with drug trafficking, but, in the present circumstances, seem to be hotbeds of this terrible anti-social activity.

A link to the complete Hansard here

GLASGOW MUSEUMS ACQUIRE HISTORIC RAILWAY NAMEPLATE ‘THE RT. HON JOHN SMITH, QC, MP’

14th March 2020

On Saturday 14th I attended a heritage railway event in Glasgow, below is a piece taken from the Glasgow Times.

Glasgow Museums has acquired a railway nameplate of outstanding historic merit, named after John Smith, the late Labour leader and former Member of Parliament for Monklands East. The plate, ‘The Rt. Hon John Smith, QC, MP’, which has been mounted on a wooden backing board, was presented by the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board (RHDAB) in the presence of members of John Smith’s family at Riverside Museum, where the city’s world-class transport and technology collection is exhibited.

RHDAB, co-chaired by Lord Richard Faulkner, selected Glasgow Museums as the recipient of the significant nameplate given John Smith’s connection to the area and the organisation’s reputation for preserving items of railway heritage from across Scotland, together with the impressive scope of the collection in its care. This was a key item on the agenda of the annual Heritage Railway Association Scottish Forum, which took place at Riverside museum this weekend.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Co-Chair of RHDAB and President of the Heritage Railway Association, said: ‘We are deeply grateful to Glasgow Museums for agreeing to accept this iconic nameplate, which commemorates the life of one of Britain’s greatest statesmen. It is a rare honour for trains and locomotives to be named after parliamentarians, and it is wholly fitting that the wonderful Riverside museum should be this nameplate’s final home. I particularly appreciate the efforts of my colleagues in the RHDAB Scottish Support Group for the part they played in ensuring this important part of the story of railways in Scotland is preserved for everyone to enjoy and appreciate for ever.’



An online link to the Glasgow Times can be found here

A link to the press release from The Herald here

A link to the press release from The Metro here

TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE - HS2

11th February 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, first, I thank the Minister for the letter of 4 February that she wrote to all Peers who took part in the debate on 23 January. I certainly found it very helpful and encouraging, although not all her noble friends did. I will raise a question that was touched on by her noble friend Lord Haselhurst. The Minister says that, if the project goes ahead, HS2 will create a long-term carbon alternative to domestic flights or driving, and that HS2 can play a key role in achieving the transition to carbon net zero by 2050—something that I wish the Green Party would occasionally take seriously. The Prime Minister’s Statement says that: “Passengers arriving at Birmingham Airport will be able to get to central London by train in 38 minutes, which compares favourably with the time it takes to get from Heathrow by taxi”. Presumably we are not now going to have a third runway.

A link to the complete Hansard here

TAIWAN SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT ISSUES

10th February 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My Lords, I declare my interest as the Government’s trade envoy to Taiwan; the Minister will know that this constrains me a little in what I can say in the Chamber. Will the Minister take back to his right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary the very great satisfaction among the friends of Taiwan at the statement made by Mr Raab after the legislative and presidential election? He offered warm congratulations to the people of Taiwan on the smooth conduct of those elections, and to Dr Tsai Ing-wen and her party on her re-election.

A link to the complete Hansard here

HRA AWARDS 2020


Here is a picture taken of me and the winner of the 'Lord Faulkner Young Volunteer of the Year' at the Heritage Railway Association annual awards dinner. The winner was Philip Civil of the Chacewater Railway.


A link to the picture on the HRA website can be found here

TAIWAN TOURISM AWARD

29th January 2020:

On 29th January 2020, I was presented an award by Ambassador David Y.L. Lin on behalf of the Tourism Bureau of Taiwan's Ministry of Transport for Special Contribution to Taiwan Tourism. The award was for my contribution to promoting tourism, cultural exchanges and heritage preservation between Taiwan and the UK.
Download and read the full article here

LORDS DEBATE ON HIGH SPEED 2 RAILWAY LINE

23rd January 2020:

In the Lords debate today I made a speech on the benefits and need for the HS2.
UK High Speed 2 rail map
My Lords, I remind the House of my railway interests as declared in the register. Over the decade or so that we have been debating, planning and now building HS2, the demand for rail travel in Great Britain has continued to grow at a rate that those of us who worked for the railways back in the 1970s and 1980s find astonishing. Back then, British Rail was planning for contraction and there was still talk of closing lines.

We have heard from some noble Lords that it is possible to divert money from High Speed 2 to upgrading existing lines, but I think that was answered very convincingly in Construction News earlier this week by the Network Rail chief executive, Andrew Haines, in his description of the sort of disruption that it would cause to train services for years and years. My noble friend Lord Adonis referred to that. Assuming continuous weekends of closure, for example, the east coast route would be closed at one location every week for between 26 and 29 years. We all remember—and indeed shudder at the memory—the disruption caused week after week, month after month, during the attempt around the start of this century to modernise the west coast main line. If we did not build High Speed 2, we would have to do that all over again, and indeed cause similar or worse disruption on all three main lines to the north.

It is not true to say that there is plenty of capacity on those lines, as the noble Viscount has just indicated. There are no train paths available at all on the west coast main line and no additional train paths available out of either King’s Cross or St Pancras. Network Rail’s report on new lines published in 2009 forecast that the growth in passenger demand would be 2% a year and concluded that two new running lines south from Birmingham would be needed to cope with the demand. Growth has in fact been double that, at up to 5.4% a year, so we are running out of time and certainly running out of capacity.

There are only three effective ways of dealing with this growth in demand for train travel. The first is to choke off demand by raising fares to unreasonable levels, pricing all but the most wealthy off the trains, and degrading services at the same time. British Rail was told to do that by the Government in the 1970s, as I remember very well; it did not work out well for anybody—not for the Government and certainly not for the railway.

The second option, which I am pleased to say nobody today has so far put forward, is to embark on another programme of motorway construction. We would need two new motorways to provide anything approaching the same capacity as the High Speed 2 railway line.

The third option is to do what most major economies in Europe and the Far East have done, as detailed with great care by my noble friend Lord Grocott: to build a network of high-speed railways. The one aspect that is common to all these countries is that none has regretted ​it and all have expanded their high-speed network after opening it and having built and operated their first lines. Not only do they solve the problem of meeting growing passenger demand for rail travel, they also achieve huge environmental benefits as a result of what is called modal shift.

The most immediate benefit of creating extra capacity on our existing main line railways is to provide room for attracting extra freight on to those routes; an argument which I remember my noble friend Lord Berkeley put forward with great skill when he was involved with the Rail Freight Group. It is particularly true of the west coast main line, and would enable us to replace thousands of heavy goods vehicle movements.

High-speed railways also have the desirable effect of attracting passengers from shorter-distance air services and longer-distance car travel. I commend to your Lordships an excellent piece by the journalist Ian Walmsley in August’s Modern Railways, entitled, I think, “HS2: Stand Up and Be Counted”. I shall quote just one paragraph:

“HS2 stands or falls on modal transfer from road and air, but that’s no problem because high-speed rail achieves exactly that. The problem starts when you look at the Department’s figures for modal transfer, which are unbelievably low. All over the world road and air traffic has moved to high-speed rail when it becomes available, yet predictions for HS2 show just 1 per cent of its business coming from air and 4 per cent from cars.”

I have no doubt that the potential for attracting air passengers is far greater than the department has so far allowed for.

High Speed 2 is essential to achieving net zero emissions and tackling climate change. I think that only the noble Lord, Lord Mair, has mentioned the climate emergency in this debate so far. Today, a high- speed rail journey would typically yield a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with flying the same route. When electrical power generation is fully decarbonised, this will be a 100% saving. Rail freight reduces carbon emissions by 76% compared to road, and passengers travelling on High Speed 2 will emit almost seven times less carbon emissions per passenger kilometre than the equivalent intercity car journey. Phase 1 of High Speed 2 will make a significant strategic contribution towards a carbon-neutral economy, with the whole-life carbon footprint of its construction and operation being less than one month’s road transport greenhouse gas emissions. I have to say that this is one reason that I find the opposition of the Green Party to High Speed 2 so inexplicable.

If HS2 does not proceed, it is not, of course, the case that funds would be immediately transferable to the north. As the Minister said on 24 July, in response to a question from her friend the noble Lord, Lord Framlingham, “northern powerhouse rail … is a very important railway project, but it is not an either/or situation. We can have HS2 and we can have northern powerhouse rail; indeed, for both of them to work, they both need to be built”.—[Official Report, 24/7/19; col. 751.]

According to the Times on Monday, Britain’s construction companies have written to the Prime Minister warning that scrapping HS2 would cause “irreparable damage” to the sector and would jeopardise “an industrial renaissance” in the Midlands and northern England. As the biggest infrastructure project in Europe, ​HS2 is expected to create around 30,000 construction jobs and 2,000 apprentices. There is no alternative shovel-ready infrastructure project that can sustain the tens of thousands of skilled workers needed to maintain Britain’s engineering and construction capability. I quote from the letter:

“It would take many years to get an equivalent pipeline of work in place, by which time the damage would already be done to the supply chain. Just as the original railways built by the Victorians are still in use today, HS2 is not just a ‘once in a generation’ project, but a multi-century investment.”

They are absolutely right.

A link to the complete Hansard here

NORTH COTSWOLD LINE TRANSFORMATION

22nd Jan 2020:

I was delighted to see that Harriett Baldwin MP secured a debate in Westminster Hall on 22 January on improvements to the North Cotswold Line. I chair the special Task Force which was established by the local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, the Department for Transport, and Great Western Railway to make the case for the investment needed to support a doubling the number of trains between Oxford and Worcester, and to run new services beyond Worcester. All the MPs on our route, and those representing constituencies in Herefordshire and north Worcestershire which will benefit from the train service improvements, are behind what we are doing in the task force and many spoke in Harriett’s debate.


A link to the complete Hansard here

The briefing note sent to MPs before the debate is here

REBIRTH OF A CLASSIC STEAM LOCOMOTIVE by L A Summers

Jan 2020:

I was asked to write the foreword for Rebirth of a Classic Steam Locomotive, The story of the Lady of Legend, written by L A Summers and published by the Great Western Society.
Book can be purchased from the Didcot Railway Centre here

Download and read the full foreword text here

LEIGHTON BUZZARD - 100 YEARS

Jan 2020:

In the January 2020 issue of the Railway Magazine I submitted a piece on Leighton Buzzard celebrating a hundred years of operating.
Download and read the full article here

THE RAILWAY MAGAZINE - HERITAGE MATTERS - RICHARD HOPE

Dec 2019:

In the December 2019 issue of the Railway Magazine I submitted a piece on Richard Hope who was a railway journalist who saved Britain's rail network.
Download and read the full article here

PRESENTATION OF A CHEQUE FOR £25,000 TO THE AFC FYLDE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

23rd Feb 2019:

At half-time at the AFC Fylde vs Dagenham & Redbridge match on 23 February I presented a cheque for £25,000 to the AFC Fylde Community Foundation from the National League Community Trust as the trust’s contribution towards their programme in the community.


See the twitter page from AFC Fylde Foundation here