Office of Rail and Road Update - February 2017

21 February 2017

We begin this month’s edition of our newsletter with the announcement that Joanna Whittington has been confirmed in her appointment as Chief Executive Officer at ORR following an open public competition. The appointment is effective immediately.

Stephen GlaisterJoanna has acted as interim CEO since January 2016.

A number of excellent candidates applied for the CEO role and the panel selected Joanna following a thorough and rigorous process. The ORR Board very much looks forward to continuing to work with Joanna, who is an outstanding leader, with a strong track record of disciplined execution.

Stephen Glaister
ORR Chair

Top stories

ORR consults on next year’s Business Plan

We recently held a workshop with around 40 of our diverse stakeholders for their views on the content of our business plan for the year beginning in April.

ORR directors ran through our proposed approaches for next year and invited comments and contributions in the half-day event which was attended by policymakers, planners and operators from across the rail and road industries and public bodies.

Thank you to everyone who came and made helpful suggestions.

Our Business Plan will be published in early April.

ORR seeks improvement to Highways England’s capital planning and asset management

Highways England’s capital planning and asset managementORR's interim update of Highways England’s performance highlights progress made in developing better plans for maintenance and improvements. However it also points out the need for Highways England to improve its asset management – especially road condition and the reporting of road condition. While Highways England has taken action to improve planning and delivery, it needs to agree a robust, deliverable and affordable approach for its long term investment plans; ORR has asked Highways England to review its capital baseline for the remainder of this road period.

You can read the report and see more information in Highways Director Peter Antolik’s recent blog.

ORR calls for price guarantee on tickets from machines

Ticket vending machinesOur recent research into train tickets bought at machines showed 1 in 5 passengers might select a more expensive ticket than necessary or be at risk of a penalty fare when using a machine. We have asked train operators to provide a price guarantee, refunding passengers who could have bought a cheaper ticket. Clearer information also needs to be displayed on the range of tickets available and their restrictions and validities, such as peak or off peak fares.

RDG Conference

ORR was present at the Rail Delivery Group’s Annual Conference on 7 February.

Chief Executive Joanna Whittington pointed to the need to avoid the risks of innovation creating a two tier passenger experience, particularly for customers with disabilities. In a session on '21st Century Consumer Experience' she emphasised that no matter how technology developed, "it must be fully inclusive".

Taking part in a discussion on 'Capacity, Technology and Performance' Chief Inspector Ian Prosser emphasised the importance of managing the trade offs between the three and being honest with the consumer. Ian said difficulties could be avoided with less bespoking in safety and looking instead to tried and tested, as well as world leading, technology.