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Railhub Archive
1998-07-29 ORR-001
Office of the Rail Regulator


Regulator optimistic for public/private partnership for rail

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Office of the Rail Regulator

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Office of the Rail Regulator

Regulator optimistic for public/private partnership for rail

29 July 1998
source Office of the Rail Regulator
type Press release

note ORR/98/29

Britain is on the brink of a railway renaissance with the real possibility of political and commercial harmonisation, the Rail Regulator, John Swift QC, said in his fifth annual report published today.

Mr Swift said: "We are at the beginning of what should be the renaissance of the railway within a modern multi-modal transport system. For the first time since the fierce debates in 1992 and 1993 about the legitimacy of private ownership of the railway, I see the real possibility of long-term political and commercial harmonisation of ideas and resources on what can and needs to done to make the modern railway a reality."

He said that over the last four years the Office of the Rail Regulator had been vigilant in the protection of passengers, helped to boost the emerging freight market and required Railtrack to raise its game substantially in investment, in performance and in accountability to customers.

He said: "In terms of the future structure of the railways, I believe that opportunities for innovation in the development of new major projects must be grasped. Where they are profitable, there should be no problem in their being taken forward, providing that they meet concerns on planning and environmental grounds.

"Where they require public funding, it must be in the interests of society as a whole that the contribution of the private sector is joined effectively with proper planning and Government commitment in producing a modern railway fit for the 21st century.

"It will be for the Government and Parliament to determine the extent to which independent regulation can contribute to the development of that structure. I believe that the last four years have shown both commitment and achievement in the first phase of that development."

He said the Government White Paper on transport establishes a Strategic Rail Authority and gives to it the functions currently carried out by the Government and the Franchising Director, and also the consumer protection functions of the Rail Regulator. Until legislation was brought in to secure the changes, the Regulator said he would be responsible for the effective discharge of all of his statutory duties, continuing to seek, by more effective regulation, better services for passengers and freight users.

Mr Swift said, in the meantime, fresh challenges lay ahead with the new Competition Bill, expected to take effect in 1999, conferring further wide-ranging powers on the utility regulators, including the Rail Regulator, to control anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant positions.

Railhub Archive ::: 1998-07-29 ORR-001


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