HS2

05.11.18

New ORR chair tells MPs the regulator will focus on passengers and ‘end user’ of rail industry

The preferred choice to take up the post as chair of the rail regulator has told MPs that he will take in a customer-focused and “end users” perspective to future operations on the railway.

Speaking to MPs at the Transport Select Committee, Declan Collier, who was announced to be the preferred candidate in August, said the contrasting demands of operational excellence and budgetary excellence for the ORR “squeezes out the needs of the users.”

“The regulator has very specific roles and duties that are laid down in law—in general what you’re looking at in terms of the economic side of the role that the regulator has,” Collier told MPs.

“I would say that the ORR will concentrate more in the future in terms of driving improvements to the system and changing behaviours and trying to identify and initiate change that will add the most value to the sector.

“I think in any capital-intensive industry is that the issues you tend to see over time is that the professional focus of the industry tends to almost come down to operational excellence and then budgetary excellence, and what happens is it squeezes out the needs of the users; whether they be freight companies or indeed passengers.”

The former London City Airport chief executive went on to say that he would be hoping for the ORR to encourage organisations to think more “about the end users,” and hinted at the idea of driving incentives to encourage Network Rail and TOCs providing services for passengers to respond.

“In terms of the industries I’ve worked in the past, these have been common types of problems – it’s a great problem to have that the problem you have is driven by growth, particularly with the rail industry. My background has been in industries facing similar issues, particularly in terms of attracting in the type of investment you need to overcome those sorts of issues.”

When asked about the ORR-led timetable summer fiasco review and how the rail regulator performed in its findings, Collier said there were “weaknesses in the organisation,” but added its board was willing to commit to action on its internal issues.

“The report has been a good report from what I can see. It has done a thorough job where the ORR believed there were issues with the timetabling fiasco. It’s been very good in calling out the particular problems that exist and the gaps there.

“I think there were clearly gaps and issues in terms of seeing the problem when it appeared. But once there were issues that were discovered as it has been in terms of the Glaister report, I think the next stage would be to look at the recommendations; but I wouldn’t characterise the initial behaviour as being hesitant.”

The new chair is expected to take departing Professor Stephen Glaister’s role as chair of the regulator, and will begin work in the post on 1 January 2019.

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