Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced plans to establish a new ‘Rail Executive’ body to oversee industry matters within the Department for Transport (DfT).
Although the Rail Executive has been set up in reaction to the franchising crisis which followed the collapse of the West Coast competition in 2012, McLoughlin has said the body’s responsibilities will extend to managing “the interdependencies between rolling stock, track, stations, freight and passenger services; and between existing services and HS2”.
Franchising will now be managed by a seperate team within the Rail Executive called the Office of Rail Passenger Services, which will be led by an externally recruited managing director and supported by non-executive board members.
By setting up the Rail Executive, McLoughlin also believes the department is going some way to creating an arms-length body to manage the franchising process, as recommended in both the Brown and Laidlaw reports.
In a written statement to Parliament, McLoughlin said: “Creation of the rail executive will support the drive to strengthen our focus on passengers; build an enhanced culture of commercial expertise and innovation; and ensure greater coordination of improvements to track and trains.
“A new approach to recruitment, reward and career development for commercial rail skills will allow the rail executive to increase capability at all levels and bolster commercial experience in the management team.
“This will reduce the department’s dependency upon consultants and increase its ability to negotiate the best deal for passengers and the taxpayer.”