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ORR unveils route-based regulation proposals for NR devolution

The first route-based regulation proposals have been published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), including separate financial arrangements and outputs for each route.

Under the proposed framework, which will be included in the ORR’s 2018 period review, each of England’s eight geographical routes will be regulated separately from each other and from routes in Scotland, as part of the ORR’s commitment to exploring route-based regulation.

Each one will have different forecasts of efficient cost, assumed required revenue, asset regulation, charges for access and management of financial risk, as well as different outputs, in order to improve regulation.

The ORR will also take “a tailored approach” to managing the new virtual route, although this will not necessarily include full devolved regulation.

In an appearance before the Transport Select Committee on Monday, Joanna Whittington, the interim chief executive of the ORR, said that the regulator had no immediate plans to increase regulation to improve passenger experience.

However, she said that route devolution could deliver improvements in the longer term.

In a separate consultation, the ORR is also looking at ways to improve Network Rail’s management of system operation to reduce performance and punctuality problems and accommodate digital railway.

It also warns that some of Network Rail’s timetable planning rules are “out of date and based on inaccurate information” about rolling stock and network assets.

It suggests offering Network Rail greater financial incentives to maximise the network’s capacity.

A third consultation says the ORR is considering more focused regulation of Network Rail system operation, including monitoring these functions separately from the rest.

All the consultations are open until 24 August.

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