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Railhub Archive
2004-07-15 DfT-001
Department for Transport


A new structure to deliver a better railway

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railway reform

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Department for Transport

A new structure to deliver a better railway

15 Jul 2004 00:00
source Department for Transport
type Press release

note dft_railways_pdf_031105.pdf

Britain's Railway will get a new streamlined structure that is fit to deliver the improvements the public expect, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced today.

Publishing the White Paper, 'The Future of Rail', Mr Darling announced that the new structure will be customer not industry focused. He said it will ensure money is spent where it is most needed, not wasted through poor planning and needless bureaucracy.

The White Paper concludes the Transport Secretary's review of the railways. It sets out a blueprint that will enable track and train operators to improve performance through closer working at a local level. It will give Network Rail a stronger role as network operator, putting it in charge of industry planning, timetables and co-ordinating service recovery following problems on the track.

Ministers will take charge of the key strategic rail decisions, and will devolve power where appropriate. Scotland, Wales and London will have more say over passenger services. In England, Passenger Transport Authorities will have a right to vary services and fares, and will be given more flexibility to switch funding between rail and other transport modes.

To simplify and improve the structure further, regulation will be streamlined. The Office of Rail Regulation will take responsibility for independently regulating safety, performance and cost.

Alistair Darling said:

"Last year the railways carried over a billion passengers for the first time since the 1960's. So it's essential we put in place the right organisation to run the railways providing passengers with reliable and efficient services.

"The proposals I am announcing today streamline the structure of the organisation of the railway, they provide a single point of accountability for performance, allow closer working between track and train and provide for greater local and devolved decision making.

We are putting the organisation of the railways on a stable long-term footing backed by increased funding. We have set out a clear direction for Britain's railway backed by the money it needs."

Notes for Editors

1. The White Paper 'The Future of the Railways' is available on the Department's website

2. The new structure is based on 6 key changes these are outlined in the White Paper summary, but in short are:

* The Government will take charge of setting the strategy for the railways: It will have clear agreements with each part of the industry, set levels of public expenditure and take decisions on what it should buy. The SRA will be closed and it's strategic functions and financial obligations moved to the Department for Transport. The Office of Rail Regulation will ensure the Government pays the correct price for what it wants.
* Network Rail will be given clear responsibility for operating the network and for it's performance: It will ensure passengers get a more reliable service and will lead industry planning, set timetables and take charge when incidents on the network threaten delay. It is announcing changes to its Governance structure today to help it take on the new role.
* Track and train companies will work more closely together: In time the number of franchises will be reduced and aligned more closely with Network Rail's regional structure. There will be greater clarity of roles and incentives will be aligned.
* There will be an increased role for the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Government and the London Mayor, and more local decision-making in England: They will be given increased flexibility over passenger services and where appropriate, infrastructure.
* The Office of Rail Regulation will cover safety, performance and cost: The regulatory system will be streamlined to reduce bureaucracy and courage culture change. Safety regulation will transfer from HSE to ORR, but will remain completely independent of Government and the industry.
* A better deal for freight will enable the industry and its customers to invest for the long term: Freight operators will be given greater certainty about their rights on the national network, and a group of key routes will be identified on which freight will enjoy and pay for more assured rights of access.

3. A number of these changes will require primary legislation, notably the closure of the SRA, the transfer of safety regulation from HSE, and proposals relating to devolved decision-making.

4. Alistair Darling announced the Rail Review on the 19 January 2004.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website:

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