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ORR publishes four key documents for rail network regulation

Today marks the release of the Office of Rail and Road’s four key documents that aim to deal with the future regulation of the GB rail network. Three of these come as supporting documents for the ORR’s periodic review (PR23), with the fourth being a response to the UK Government’s consultation on proposed legislation within the forthcoming Transport Bill.

The regular periodic reviews are a key oversight mechanism in place that allows the ORR to hold Network Rail accountable and secure value for money throughout the sector with project implementation. PR23 will determine Network Rail's outputs and funding for Control Period 7 (2024-2029), which will be applicable to the Great British Railways once the transition to the new governing body has been achieved.

The ORR’s approach for PR23 will continue to develop throughout the year, ahead of receiving the UK and Scottish Government’s decisions on funding levels that will be provided for infrastructure, which will based on their ambitions for delivery and returns. These decisions are expected to be provided in October 2022 for England and Wales, and November 2022 for Scotland, with Network Rail’s strategic business plan set to be submitted by February next year.

The ORR will then be tasked to produce a draft determination and, later in the year, a final determination that will aim to set out the decisions on what Network Rail must be held accountable over to deliver over CP7. This determination will also establish the funding allocations for Network Rail’s different business units and priorities.

The documents published today, are:

  • A consultation on our proposed policy framework for how the infrastructure manager for the national rail network (currently Network Rail) is held accountable for the funding it will receive for Control Period 7 (CP7)
  • A consultation on the proposed measures that would be used to hold the infrastructure manager to account in CP7 - this is designed to support ORR’s consultation on the policy framework
  • ORR’s guidance to Network Rail, as the infrastructure manager, on the production of its February 2023 Strategic Business Plan (SBP). The SBP will set out, based on governments’ decisions about CP7 funding and outputs, what it intends to deliver for CP7
  • ORR’s response to the UK Government on its consultation on proposed legislative reforms to implement the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail. The UK Government is currently consulting on changes to legislation to implement rail reform, which includes the creation of a new body – Great British Railways (GBR) – that will both own the railway infrastructure and let and manage the passenger rail contracts currently awarded by the Department for Transport. ORR’s response sets out our views on the proposed legislative changes.

Will Godfrey, ORR’s Director of Economics, Finance and Markets, said:

“Periodic reviews like PR23 are one of the main ways in which we look to secure value for money for users and funders of the railway. Periodic reviews help ensure there is sufficient long-term focus on issues such as safety, performance, asset sustainability, and efficiency.

“ORR looks forward to hearing from stakeholders on the proposals set out in our PR23 consultations and working with industry to set the right long-term framework for the rail infrastructure for 2024-2029.”

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