NAO demands rail regulator sets out more effective targets for Railtrack

13 Apr 00
The Office of the Rail Regulator has been criticised for weak regulation.

14 April 2000

In a National Audit Office study, director general Sir John Bourn said the ORR needed to 'set out with greater precision' what Railtrack will be expected to deliver in terms of performance, supporting train services and the condition of key network assets.

David Davis, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, criticised the 'flawed' system which paid out bonuses to Railtrack despite poor performance, while Sir John said the regulator needed to set effective incentives.

Railtrack is responsible for half of the delays to passenger trains, with 3% of the track now in very poor condition, according to the NAO report.

Davis said: 'The report shows how weak regulation has enabled Railtrack to earn substantial bonuses despite being responsible for half the delays to passenger training and with condition of the track not up to 1994 levels.'

The regulator, Tom Winsor, who has been in the post for seven months, said he was not responsible for decisions made by his predecessors. He added that the bonus scheme would not be changed until 2001, but from then, bonuses would not be paid if the service was substandard.


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