Response to DfT consultation on primary legislative changes required to effect rail reform

Consultation status
ORR response to consultation
Date of publication

The Department for Transport (DfT) consulted between 9 June 2022 and 4 August 2022 seeking views on primary legislative changes required to effect rail reform as set out in the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail. 

The consultation covered:

  • core functions and duties of Great British Railways
  • new governance framework
  • reform of wider industry structures and processes

We submitted a response to the consultation on 28 July 2022. The response is in two parts. The covering letter summarises our views on the reform proposals and the connected non-legislative work that will be needed to implement reform. The annex responds to the specific questions listed in the consultation.

14 November 2023 update

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The Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) recommendations on delivering a simpler and more integrated railway

We welcome the publication of GBRTT’s recommendations, published on 13 November 2023. They followed the commission by the Secretary of State in August 2022 for GBRTT to develop reforms to the framework that governs access to the railway. 

ORR was asked to support that work by the Secretary of State. We provided expertise, challenge and advice throughout the project. This focused on: 

  • supporting the development of proposals that can help the railway industry to fulfil government policy goals
  • advocating for the interests of passengers and freight customers, and those of passenger and freight operators
  • ensuring that the proposals can support a coherent and effective regulatory framework so ORR can continue to fulfil our statutory duties

While the draft reform bill is subjected to pre-legislative scrutiny and the government continues to refine its policy on rail reform, these recommendations provide a helpful framing for the further policy development. 

The commission considered a range of topics. It will be necessary for the next stages of policy development and implementation to be prioritised. The immediate focus should be those areas which will deliver tangible and achievable improvements for customers of the railway, while recognising the lessons of the May 2018 timetable disruption. Greater coherence between government and railway decision making is needed to ensure the railway can respond to customer and funder needs.

It will be important that strong engagement with industry continues alongside a relentless focus on making improvements for railway customers. 

We will support DfT and the industry in this work.

We will continue to champion improvements for passengers and freight customers. As government policy develops, we will review our own approaches and processes, and consider changes where these can support rail reform. We will of course continue to engage with DfT and industry as we do this.