A new organisation to regulate the railway in place of the ORR is needed according to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).
In response to the government’s request for submissions to the Williams Review, the Chief Executive of the RDG, Paul Plummer has stated that a new organisation should be created in order for those who make decisions on the railway to be held accountable. This will lead to enhanced collaborative working in the future.
The aim of this new organisation would be to act as a guide, whilst at the same time bringing all rail network works and respective targets together. Achieving this would also release politicians from daily details and any associated saga. Therefore, this new organisation should replace the ORR.
There is no doubt that the immense infrastructure changes and substantial reforms are now pushing the UK’s rail sector into a new era. With too many regulatory bodies involved in the process this can often lead to conflicting remits and agendas competing against one another. As it currently stands, accountability is not particularly clear and that means that the public is unaware of who is actually responsible.
This has lead to ministers feeling as though they are responsible for problems on a day-to-day basis. As a result, they are dealing with the political risks by implementing constrictive contracts, but that only holds companies back from working innovatively and evolving. This has put the industry in a position where it is risk-averse whilst also not considering the bigger picture. Ultimately, this results in a railway that does not perform the way that passengers need it to.
So, this is the reason why there is now a call for an arms-length body that can implement a National Rail Policy in the correct way. This would make it possible for politicians to step back and focus on what really matters when it comes to creating a railway that appeals and works for the masses.
However, it is vital that this new body is separate from those that run the railway. This would mean that it can focus on setting strategies, objectives and targets without focusing on its performance when it comes to taking responsibility for running the railway.
This has to be a new organisation that is unlike any other organisation that has gone before it, with the right leadership, autonomy and power.