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2004-07-15 DfT-003
Department for Transport

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Scotland to get more powers over its railways


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Department for Transport

Scotland to get more powers over its railways
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2004-07-15 A new structure to deliver a better railway (Department for Transport)

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



The Government will devolve greater responsibility for rail to the Scottish Executive the Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced today.

The White Paper - 'The Future of Rail' - sets out the conclusions of the Rail Review announced in January. For Scotland the White Paper outlines measures that will mean the Scottish Executive will:

* Plan, specify, let, manage and finance the contract for Scottish passenger services

* Be able to specify and fund the rail infrastructure in Scotland for Network Rail to deliver.

* Continue to offer advice to the Government on cross border passenger services along the East and West Coast Main Lines.

* Decide how best to implement these new powers in due course, however it is likely the task will pass to the proposed new Scottish Transport Agency.

Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport said:

We will give the Scottish Executive responsibility for planning, specifying and managing rail services operating under the existing Scotrail franchise.

As the level of service specified will impact on the rail infrastructure, it is right, subject to agreement about the transfer of resources to the Scottish Executive, the Executive should specify the network they require and finance it. Network Rail will own and manage the railway infrastructure but it will be for the Scottish Executive to decide what they want and how to pay for it.

Notes for Editors

1. The White Paper 'The Future of the Railways' is available on the Department's website http://www.dft.gov.uk/railways/whitepaper/

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 DfT. 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.

5. The ORR will have the same responsibilities in Scotland as in England and Wales. Like the Secretary of State for Transport Scottish Ministers will be required to provide guidance to the ORR on desired outputs. The ORR will continue to adjudicate on issues of access and cost

6. These proposals are subject to agreement regarding the transfer of appropriate resources from the UK Government to the Scottish Executive.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk



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