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21.04.16

ORR exploring options for route-based regulation

Increased route-based regulation is likely to be introduced on British railways, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has confirmed in its business plan for 2016-17.

The long-awaited Shaw report, published last month, recommended further route devolution, although it stopped short of recommending full privatisation.

The ORR has confirmed in its business plan that it is already conducting research into how route-based devolution could look, as well as into how to ensure a system-operator perspective is maintained and how it would affect the structure of charges for passenger and  freight operators.

These changes have come following Network Rail’s transition to a publicly owned body, meaning it is subject to a fixed borrowing limit and has to look at other ways to raise money.

The ORR said that its new periodic review, PR18, due to be published later this year, will set out potential options to the changes and operation of the network and ways Network Rail can maintain value for money despite its financial troubles, including options for if it goes ahead with plans to sell major stations.

The regulator also said it wants to improve rail safety by ensuring ‘safety by design’ is included in the structure of new rail projects such as HS2, as well as focusing on level crossings, industry collaboration, occupational health improvements and stations.

ORR will also monitor how the industry is implementing the recommendations from its response to a super-complaint by consumer group Which? into passenger delays compensation, and later in the year will publish an annual report on consumers, ‘Measuring Up’, for the first time.

The ORR said that it also aims to be more financially efficient, reducing its turnover from £31.4m to £30.1m in the next year.

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