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2004-11-25 DfT-001
Department for Transport


Streamlined structure moves a step closer

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Department for Transport

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Department for Transport

Streamlined structure moves a step closer

25 Nov 2004 00:00
source Department for Transport
type Press release

The Railways Bill will help create a new structure that is fit to deliver a better railway, Alistair Darling made clear today.

He was speaking as he published the Bill that follows the 'Future of Rail' White Paper. It will implement all the proposals that require legislative change, helping to improve performance and drive down costs.

The Bill will give the Secretary of State responsibility for setting the strategic direction for rail and make the Office of Rail Regulation responsible for the regulation of safety and costs. It will increase the role of devolved administrations and city transport executives and reform passenger representation through changes to the Rail Passengers Council.

Alistair Darling said:

"The Railways Bill follows the White Paper I published in July. As I promised then, it's been introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allowed.

"The Bill will simplify the organisation of the railways, it will devolve power to Scotland, Wales, London, and the regions - and it will allow for a properly managed railway to satisfy its passengers and customers.

Other commitments that do not require legislative change are also being implemented. The White Paper clearly set out a new role for the Department for Transport. The Secretary of State announced today how it will be structured to meet new demands.

A new Rail Group of around 250 - 280 staff will be set up within the Department for Transport. It will support Ministers as they set the strategic direction of the railway, monitor performance, sponsor rail investment and let franchises.

Alistair Darling said:

"This new organisation will not simply be a merger of existing Departmental and SRA activities. There are both existing and new responsibilities so new ways of working must be introduced and developed.

"That is why we will set up a completely new structure within the Department for handling rail matters. One that is skilled and equipped to do the job.

He concluded:

"Taken together these changes will help put Britain's Railways on a stable long-term footing. They will enable the rail industry to provide a public service which passengers deserve and upon which we can depend.

Notes for Editors

1. The Bill and Explanatory notes are available via the DfT web site.

2. The Bill would:

* Allow for the abolition of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and the transfer of its strategic responsibilities and financial obligations to the Secretary of State. This would give the Secretary of State the responsibility to take charge of the setting railway strategy, whilst being accountable to Parliament and the electorate.

* Bring the regulation of all aspects of the rail industry together under the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) as a single independent public regulator, which will encompass safety, performance and cost regulation.

* Provide for increased responsibilities for the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) on the provision of passenger services and in Scotland, provide for greater responsibility for rail to the Scottish Executive (SE), including an extended role with regard

* In England, the complicated contractual arrangements that exist with the Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) will be replaced with a streamlined, more flexible approach. PTEs will be able to be co-signatories to rail franchise agreements at the Secretary of State for Transport's invitation. Transport for London (TfL) will have the equivalent powers as PTEs for the provision of passenger services in London

* Revise the current procedures to allow funders, including PTEs, TfL and devolved administrations, to make sensible decisions between rail, light rail and bus in furtherance of integrated transport policies. Changes in procedures for discontinuing passenger services, closing parts of the network, stations or facilities are essential to take account of new structural arrangements in the Bill and to make arrangements simpler. The new procedures will ensure that there is full consultation before any decision is taken and passenger interests will continue to be taken into account. There are no plans for wide scale changes to the network or services.

* Reform the Rail Passengers Council (RPC) to become a stronger, more independent national body reporting directly to the Secretary of State. The RPC will provide a strong passenger voice and will champion passenger concerns both regionally and nationally.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website:

Railhub Archive ::: 2004-11-25 DfT-001


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