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Railhub Archive
1997-05-21 ORR-001
Office of the Rail Regulator


Regulator calls for greater public accountability from Railtrack

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Office of the Rail Regulator

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Office of the Rail Regulator

Regulator calls for greater public accountability from Railtrack

related documents

Railtrack's investment programme (ORR, 1997)

1997-05-21 “We are getting on with the job” - Railtrack's response to Rail Regulator's statement (Railtrack plc)

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21 May 1997
source Office of the Rail Regulator
type Press release

note ORR/97/09

The Rail Regulator today announced that he would be seeking to agree an amendment to Railtrack's licence to ensure delivery of its investment plans.

The Regulator, John Swift QC, said, "Railtrack published its first post-privatisation Network Management Statement in February. The form and period of the Statement were approved by me and it contains much more information about Railtrack's plans for the renewal and development of the railway network than has previously been available. The Statement is an important first step forward in demonstrating Railtrack's commitment to planning and future investment. However, there is more to be done and I am asking Railtrack, over the course of the year, to set out more detail on their plans in a number of important areas.

"But the Statement is only a set of plans and I have concluded that it is now timely to consider strengthening Railtrack's obligations to ensure delivery of those plans. In certain areas, Railtrack's delivery against its plans to date has been disappointing: there remains a substantial backlog of expenditure on network assets, stations and depots which Railtrack must eradicate as a priority."

"Railtrack's investment programme must be directed to achieve three purposes:

Timely maintenance of the railway network.
Timely renewal and replacement of the network in the appropriate modern equivalent form.
Improvement, enhancement and development of the network.
"Railtrack has no competitors. The role of regulation, therefore, is to provide, through systems of controls, what a competitive market should be expected to achieve through incentives. But at present Railtrack's obligations on delivery of its investment programme are extremely light. First, there is no obligation to demonstrate how it proposes to link its investment programme to output targets. Second, there is no direct means of ensuring that Railtrack complies with its duty to spend the money it receives for investment, and to spend it wisely. Assurances that the capital and maintenance programme will be carried out, the more especially when most of the annual expenditure is funded by the State, require something more bankable than the expression of intentions or the short-term pressures to meet contractual obligations.

"I have therefore commenced discussions with Railtrack to seek to agree with it an appropriate modification to its licence which would meet public interest concerns without prejudicing its effective management of a properly directed capital investment programme. I would then consult with interested parties to ensure that their concerns were being properly addressed. The new licence condition should safeguard and promote their interests as partners of Railtrack in a better railway, and their views will be particularly important."


1. Condition 7 of Railtrack's Network Licence, enforced by the Regulator, requires them to publish annually its plans for the network in a form, and covering a period, approved by the Regulator. The Network Management Statement fulfils this obligation. However, Condition 7 does not impose on Railtrack any obligation to deliver on those plans.

2. "Railtrack's Investment Programme: Statement by the Rail Regulator" is available, free of charge, from Sue MacSwan, ORR Library, address as above (Tel: 0171 282 2001; Fax: 0171 282 2045; E-mail:

3. In January this year the Regulator set out his objectives for Railtrack in a document, "Regulatory Objectives for Railtrack", which is also available from Sue MacSwan.

Railhub Archive ::: 1997-05-21 ORR-001


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