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Railhub Archive
2001-03-22 ORR-001
Office of the Rail Regulator


Regulator acts to help bring new trains into service more quickly

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Office of the Rail Regulator

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Office of the Rail Regulator

Regulator acts to help bring new trains into service more quickly

22 March 2001
source Office of the Rail Regulator
type Press release

note ORR/07/01

The Rail Regulator, Tom Winsor, has today published a consultation document on streamlining Railtrack's procedures for accepting new trains to operate on its network. For some time there have been problems with the reliable introduction of new vehicles onto the network. This consultation document is about the sufficiency and efficiency of Railtrack's existing processes for the approval of rolling stock, the ways in which they are being operated in practice and how they may be improved.

The delays with the reliable introduction of new rolling stock have arisen from a number of causes, not all of them associated with Railtrack's vehicle and route acceptance procedures. However, the Regulator considers that Railtrack's arrangements are deficient in a number of areas. These include: the availability and timely provision of information (particularly at the design and specifications stage) about Railtrack's infrastructure and its relationship with rolling stock; complexity of the processes; and the lack of a contractual or other formal relationship between manufacturers, rolling stock leasing companies, operators and Railtrack in this respect.

Commenting on the delays experienced in bringing new trains into service, Tom Winsor said: "Safety remains paramount. This consultation and reform is not about the safety decisions that Railtrack makes about the acceptance of new trains to run on the network. It is about the procedures which Railtrack follows in making these decisions. The industry continues to experience significant delays in the introduction of new rolling stock. Whilst a number of the problems are not attributable to the vehicle and route acceptance process, there remain serious concerns about Railtrack's processes and the ways in which they operate. These need to be tackled now."

The Regulator has announced an eight-week consultation period, ending on 17 May 2001, on new contractual arrangements between train manufacturers, train operators and Railtrack to address these issues and create an efficient and effective working relationship. This will build on the contracts which have been in place for almost three years between Virgin Trains and Railtrack covering the development of new trains for West Coast Main Line and CrossCountry routes.

On 20 March 2001, the Regulator announced a requirement for Railtrack to establish a comprehensive and reliable register of the condition, capacity and capability of its assets. The register will include gauge and other information which is needed for rolling stock approvals. There are very specific issues about the timely provision of information about the network for vehicle and route acceptance and for the design and manufacture of rolling stock. This document addresses the most important of these.

Notes for editors

1. Railtrack does not currently possess comprehensive, accurate information concerning the clearances between structures and the track (the "loading gauge"). A national project to determine this information is currently due for completion by January 2003, but until that time in too many respects train builders are faced with incomplete or inaccurate information whilst designing new trains. Knowledge of the electrical characteristics of the network and its interaction with trains is even less well defined and train manufacturers are often faced with the need to carry out significant modifications to new trains before they are allowed access to the network.
2. In October 1999, the Regulator received a formal complaint from two rolling stock manufacturers, ADtranz (DaimlerChrysler Rail Systems (UK) Ltd) and ALSTOM Transport Ltd, in relation to the efficiency and sufficiency of Railtrack's vehicle and route acceptance procedures. The complaint alleged non-compliance by Railtrack with Conditions 3 (now 6) and 7 of its network licence. This complaint also alleged that some of the existing relevant Railway Group Standards were not fit for purpose and that Railtrack should amend them. The Regulator will be publishing his decision on this complaint shortly.
3. The consultation document Notice of proposed modification to Railtrack's network licence: Asset register, Office of the Rail Regulator, London, March 2001, is available together with its associated press notice.
4. The Vehicle and route acceptance procedures: a consultation document, with Appendix A and Appendix B are available here as PDF files or in hard copy from the ORR Librarian, Sue MacSwan, 1 Waterhouse Square, 138-142 Holborn, London EC1N 2TQ, tel: 020 7282 2001, fax: 020 7282 2045, e-mail:
Press Enquiries

ORR Press Office: 020 7282 2002/2007
Out of hours: pager 07659 127303

Railhub Archive ::: 2001-03-22 ORR-001


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