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2004-07-15 DfT-004
Department for Transport


North West to get more say in how it runs its railways

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railway reform.

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Department for Transport

North West to get more say in how it runs its railways

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

The Government will give Manchester and Merseyside more authority to decide how to run their railway, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced today.

Publishing the White Paper - 'The Future of Rail' - Mr Darling said that the new structure of the railways will be passenger not industry focused. He said it will ensure money is spent on improving performance for passengers, not wasted through poor planning and needless bureaucracy.

In particular for the North West the White Paper outlines measures that will mean Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) and Merseytravel will:

* Have greater flexibility in their funding arrangements enabling them to make real choices between rail and other transport modes. * Be able to vary levels of fares and rail services within their area.
* Merseytravel may get the chance to operate and maintain the trains, track, stations and signals on the Merseyrail network. The Department for Transport will be holding discussions in the coming months with a view to establishing how best to achieve this. * In addition the White Paper supports the approach to safeguard community involvement in managing and sustaining local railway lines.

Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport said:

"Local transport decisions are best taken by people who know what's needed locally. They should be able to make informed decisions as to what works best and what they are willing to pay for.

Passenger Transport Executive's already manage transport provision in some of the main metropolitan areas of England. I propose that in future they will be able to buy additional services and to transfer funding between rail and other transport modes.

We will reform the funding arrangements and legislation for Manchester and Merseytravel to provide more flexibility to make choices between rail and other forms of transport - bus and light rail for example.

In addition the White Paper also acknowledges the valuable role of community railway lines, which we aim to put on a better financial footing."

Notes for Editors

1. The White Paper 'The Future of Rail' 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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