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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Railway proposals: at-a-glance
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has announced to the House of Commons proposals to overhaul the organisation of Britain's railway system. Here are the main proposals.


  • The government will take control of national rail strategy, including how much money is spent, who is held accountable and who receives train-operating licences.

  • The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), which was previously responsible for strategy, will be wound up in the majority of its functions.

  • Richard Bowker, chairman and chief executive officer of the SRA, will stand down in September and be replaced by his deputy, David Quarmby, until it closes.

  • The Office of Rail Regulation will continue as independent economic regulator.

Operational responsibility

  • Network Rail will be given more responsibility, including industry planning, setting timetables and directing service recovery.

  • Network Rail will be entirely accountable to passengers and freight users for the performance of the network.

  • There will be a new structure governing relations between Network Rail and the train-operating companies.

  • The number of franchises will be reduced and the past record of each train operator will be considered in the contract-awarding process.

  • The government will have the power to take each operator off the railway if they repeatedly fail to deliver.


  • In Scotland, the Scottish Executive will be responsible for planning, specifying and managing services operating under the existing franchise, although Network Rail will retain responsibility for the infrastructure.

  • In Wales, the Welsh Assembly will specify fares and funding for local services and funding for additional infrastructure work.

  • In London, the mayor will be given more control over services within the GLA boundaries.

  • Throughout England, Passenger Transport Executives will be able to buy additional services and transfer funding between rail and other transport modes.

  • The Office of Rail Regulation will take over responsibility from the Health and Safety Executive and Commission.

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