BusinessCompany NewsRegulators slam rail authority

Regulators slam rail authority

The Strategic Rail Authority has come in for stinging attack by the National Audit Office and from MPs for its poor implementation of new trains.

Link: NAO to probe Network Rail accounts

Set up in February 2001, the SRA is tasked with delivering the strategic plan for British railways over the next 10 years.

But the NAO report, released on Monday, slammed the introduction of new passenger trains, with ‘most having been late entering service and not as reliable as they should be’.

It also said the deadline of December 2004 for the replacement of all slam-door trains was unlikely to be met, leaving passengers to travel on trains 20 years old in some cases.

Some 4,500 trains have been ordered since 1996 at a cost of £4.2bn.

The report blamed these problems on a lack of steady demand in ordering new trains, a lack of organisational coherence within the rail industry, a lack of standardisation of the network and the trains that run on it, a lack of information about the network, a lack of clearly defined pass/fail criteria when assessing safety risks and a lack of testing capacity.

Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said the SRA ‘must bang some heads together’ to improve life for Britain’s beleaguered commuters.

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