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I think safety needs to become an ingrained value in the sector’s by Bill Emery


It’s goodbye from me...


I


n June, after nearly six years leading the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), I step down from my role as chief executive. As such, it is a good moment to look back at the significant progress Britain’s railway has recently made – and to look ahead, towards its positive future. Ensuring excellence in safety on Britain’s railway will


always be the regulator’s priority, and here the rail industry has made significant progress. Our latest annual health and safety report highlighted that Britain has one of the safest railways in Europe – figures show that both rail workers and passengers are less likely to come to harm than ever before. The regulator’s new safety management guidance, proactive targeted safety inspections and, where necessary, enforcement is helping the industry tackle common issues such as supervision, managing change and safety awareness. The rail industry is working hard to improve value for money


– for both passengers and the taxpayer. Over the 10-year period 2003-04 to 2013-14 we will have challenged and incentivised Network Rail to deliver more than £15bn of efficiency savings. One of the industry’s key success stories over the past decade has been improved performance – Britain’s railways are running more trains, more reliably than ever before. It is no coincidence that passenger satisfaction monitored in Passenger Focus’ National Passenger Survey continues to rise. Here at ORR, we have moved away from intrusive micro-


regulation and placed greater emphasis on train operators and Network Rail. By them working closer together, overseen – as opposed to being controlled – by DfT and ORR, more responsibility is taken for fixing problems and building on successes.


thinking, and part of its culture. And as long as the regulator continues to have to step in to enforce improvements, or to prosecute where things have gone wrong – as we have done this year – then, despite progress, it is clear that the industry has significant work to do. Our latest international benchmarking of Network Rail’s work


to maintain and renew our railways showed that it is 34-40 per cent off the pace of the very best of its European peers. Alongside our own work to identify the causes of this efficiency gap, Network Rail is actively engaging with its European counterparts to identify the new techniques and practices that will help it address the gap. And for operational performance, our latest Network Rail monitor (for the third quarter covering 17 October 2010 to 8 January 2011) showed that Network Rail will miss this year’s regulatory requirements covering punctuality, delays and cancellations. Performance slipped in autumn, and was seriously affected by the severe winter weather, despite great efforts by many people across the railways, which kept services running. Looking more widely, we have agreed with Network Rail a series


of improvement trajectories on the critical enablers for long term success both for the company and the mainline railway – namely excellence in both asset and health and safety management. This is an important year for the railways, with decisions to be made on industry structure, including changes to franchising and Network Rail and the findings of the McNulty rail value-for-money study. To reflect these changes, we will have to evolve as a regulator.


Going forward, we expect to play a stronger role in helping the industry deliver for the passenger – indeed, we have already set out our intention to ensure passengers receive accurate, timely, and consistent information. In May we start the process towards establishing the next plan for funding Britain’s railways from 2014-19 (Control Period 5). In this time of change, I expect the railways will emerge stronger. With so many committed people, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the past six years, supported by the right plans, structures and incentives that bring the industry closer together, the railways will move from strength to strength offering an excellent service, and ever better value for taxpayers, passengers and freight customers.


BILL EMERY is chief executive of the Office of Rail Regulation


‘This is an important year for the railways, with decisions to be made on industry structure’


PAGE 36 MAY 2011


Network Rail


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