UK: ORR to Strengthen Scrutiny of Network Rail

The UK’s Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has launched its business plan for 2022/23, which includes details on how it plans to more closely scrutinise the work of Network Rail, as well as that of National Highways.

ORR safety inspector
ORR safety inspector

This is in response to reforms taking place due to the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, which will give the ORR a wider set of responsibilities.

A safety priority for ORR in the coming year is ensuring effective change management during reform.

The organisation wants to see a fast return to previous levels of safety training, assessment and frontline assurance regimes, with its health and safety inspectors to test organisations on these areas as part of routine inspection work in 2022–23.

It will also ensure that train operators comply with their obligations on accessibility, passenger information and complaints handling.

Early next year the ORR expects to take on sponsorship of the Rail Ombudsman, delivering a commitment in the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail.

The aim is to provide greater confidence in the Ombudsman’s independence.

John Larkinson, Chief Executive of the ORR, said:

“Our core purpose as an independent regulator is to protect the interests of users, ensuring the safety, value and performance of the railways and strategic roads.

“We’ll continue to work closely with government on rail reform while ensuring we’re not distracted from our crucial frontline activities, such as health and safety inspection and enforcement, holding the rail industry to account on its commitments and providing services to the industry in areas such as access decisions and authorisation of new infrastructure and trains.”

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