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UK’s value for money lessons for Europe

Sir Roy McNulty’s Value for Money report is set to be discussed at a European Parliament conference ahead of the European Commission’s new legislation on rail market liberalisation, which is due by the end of the year.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) are holding the conference to explore how lessons learnt in Britain can be used for other European countries on infrastructure reform.

Speakers include Sir Roy, ATOC’s chief executive Michael Roberts and CER’s executive director Libor Lochman, as well as Keir Fitch, deputy head of Cabinet of Commission for vice-president Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, who will outline the Commission’s response to the report.

Roberts said: “The McNulty report highlights that much has been achieved by Britain’s railways since privatisation, such as major growth in ridership, and historic levels of safety, punctuality and passenger satisfaction.

“But the whole industry has recognised for some time that costs need to come down. Sir Roy rightly identified the current barriers to efficiency such as the lack of alignment on objectives and incentives, and too much government involvement in the detail of the industry’s affairs.

“The way forward now for railways in Britain is to improve on the GB model of liberalisation, not least through reforms which lead to smarter, more output-based franchises.”

Lochman said: “The McNulty report raises questions that are important for all European countries. What steps can be taken to achieve greater cost efficiency? How can one ensure that the incentives of infrastructure managers and operators are effectively aligned so as to improve the efficiency of the rail sector as a whole?

“The case of Great Britain demonstrates the need for sufficient flexibility to allow Member States to develop national rail sector models that truly deliver.”

The conference will be held on February 1 and will be hosted by MEP Brian Simpson, chair of the EP TRAN committee.

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