Latest Rail News

02.03.12

ATOC slams ORR role extension

Proposals to extend the role of the regulator are ‘deeply flawed’, ATOC has stated.

The association believes that giving the ORR extra responsibility to oversee the operators would hinder Government attempts to limit future fare rises, reduce taxpayer subsidy and sustain investment in the railways. Additionally it would confuse accountabilities and divert the ORR from its central task.

If the ORR did take on authority for franchises, there is a price risk for operators including the costs of future regulation into their bids, leading to poor value for taxpayers. Ministers would still answer questions about the rail industry, leading to some confusion about who was ultimately in charge, ATOC added.

The ORR is currently consulting into the future regulation of the sector.

Michael Roberts, chief executive of ATOC said: “It is absolutely right that operators be held to account in providing passengers with the service that they expect and deserve. But the proposed extended role of the ORR will not help to deliver better services at a lower cost.

“The oversight of operators should remain with the franchising authority as part of longer, less prescriptive franchise agreements. The main challenge for the ORR is to focus on regulating the infrastructure provider at a time when Network Rail is changing significantly the way that it operates.

“We look forward to a constructive discussion with the rest of the industry to ensure that reform delivers better services at a price that can be afforded by passengers and taxpayers.”

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