Office of Rail Regulation or Department for Transport: you choose
27 April 2012
The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has recently been moaning that the Department for Transport (DfT) has not been radical enough in letting train companies off the leash when franchises are awarded. ATOC also don’t want the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) to have more say in monitoring and enforcing franchise obligations. These calls always seemed a bit naive. Government, who is pumping huge sums of taxpayers’ money into the industry, will and should probably always have a say. These potential 15 year franchises are virtual monopolies – in all other industries these are regulated. 15 years is a long time to wait for a decent train – passengers will want to know that their interests are being protected. While we can monitor passenger satisfaction using our National Passenger Survey, there needs to be some regulatory back up. ATOC needs to decide which form of regulation it is comfortable with. A blank sheet of paper will look quite scary to passengers.