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ATOC to transfer functions to Rail Delivery Group in partial merger

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) is to take over responsibility for the Association for Train Operating Companies (ATOC)’s role in representing the rail industry.

Policy formulation and communications on behalf of the industry will now be managed by the RDG, with ATOC combining its functions with resources from Network Rail to operate for the RDG as a whole.

ATOC’s chief executive Michael Roberts (pictured) becomes director general of the RDG, succeeding Graham Smith. The expanded executive team will strengthen the capabilities of the RDG, the group said in a statement. Tom Smith, independent chairman of ATOC, has also stepped down.

Roberts said: “The new arrangements are an exciting opportunity to work even more closely with colleagues across the industry. The team and I very much look forward to supporting group members in their passion to drive forward solutions that benefit passengers, freight users and taxpayers.”

Tim O’Toole, RDG chairman and chief executive of FirstGroup plc, said: “Britain's railways have been transformed over the past 20 years, delivering record levels of growth and performance. Greater coordination among the train operators, freight companies and Network Rail is the next logical step for the industry to evolve to the next stage of capability.

“The combination of ATOC resources with Network Rail will provide clear, unified leadership for the industry and ensure it is best placed to build on its unmatched record of success.”

Network Rail chief executive Sir David Higgins, RDG deputy chairman, said: “A better railway brings significant economic and social benefits to passengers, taxpayers and the public. The industry's commitment to work more closely is delivering real improvements to safety, service quality and efficiency. A more effective, better resourced, RDG will help us achieve more for those we serve.”

The new combined ATOC/RDG policy and corporate affairs teams will consist of 18 people based at 200 Aldersgate Street, London, ATOC’s existing offices. ATOC’s business services teams in charge of National Rail Enquiries, the Rail Settlement Plan, Rail Staff Travel and the Commercial, Operations and Engineering schemes will continue to run under Michael Roberts.

The RDG is made up of Network Rail, nine transport operators and groups, and two rail freight companies, plus 21 ‘associate members’ from elsewhere in the rail industry.

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