DfT sup­ports NR ac­count­abil­ity pro­pos­als

Rail (UK) - - Network News -

The De­part­ment for Trans­port shares the Of­fice of Rail and Road’s view that Net­work Rail’s Route Su­per­vi­sory Boards are not yet op­er­at­ing in a “sat­is­fac­tory man­ner”.

The opin­ion was voiced in the DfT’s re­sponse to the reg­u­la­tor’s Pe­ri­odic Re­view 2018 draft de­ter­mi­na­tion. It de­scribes im­prove­ments in com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween NR and train op­er­a­tors as “crit­i­cally im­por­tant”, al­though it adds that it wants to con­trib­ute to the ORR’s ap­proach to score­cards in Con­trol Pe­riod 6 (CP6) - to re­flect the role of govern­ment as a ma­jor cus­tomer and as a share­holder in NR - be­fore fi­nal de­ci­sions are made.

The ORR’s de­sire for strong reg­u­la­tion of NR’s Sys­tem Op­er­a­tor func­tion is also sup­ported by the DfT, in­clud­ing an in­crease in re­sources in this area. The De­part­ment says that “im­prov­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of the Sys­tem Op­er­a­tor will be an im­por­tant fac­tor in avoid­ing any fu­ture re­peat” of re­cent timetabling prob­lems.

How­ever, con­cern is ex­pressed that the Freight and Na­tional Pas­sen­ger Op­er­a­tor route does not have suf­fi­cient power to pro­tect the in­ter­ests of the freight in­dus­try, and in par­tic­u­lar how it en­sures that other parts of NR de­liver for freight.

An­other area of con­cern is the bal­ance of re­spon­si­bil­ity be­tween NR routes, the Sys­tem Op­er­a­tor and the In­fra­struc­ture Projects divi­sion.

The DfT wants the ORR to pro­vide fur­ther and con­tin­ued fo­cus on how its re­la­tion­ship works. It also wants the ORR to be­come in­volved in a pro­gramme of work with it and NR to im­prove the de­liv­ery of en­hance­ments and re­newals ex­am­in­ing the clar­ity of roles and ac­count­abil­i­ties.

Sep­a­rate mon­i­tor­ing of the per­for­mance of each of NR’s routes and its cen­tral func­tions is strongly sup­ported, as is a move to­wards us­ing lead­ing in­di­ca­tors of per­for­mance in the ORR’s mon­i­tor­ing of NR. Pro­pos­als to use more tar­geted en­force­ment ac­tion on in­di­vid­ual routes or func­tions, and the in­ten­tion to use more ‘rep­u­ta­tional in­cen­tives’ such as pub­lic hear­ings, are also sup­ported by the DfT.

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