Rail passenger watchdog announced


Travel Stock - Train Tickets

A new Whitehall body to put rail passengers' needs first has been announced by the Government.

To be known as the Office of Rail Passenger Services, the organisation will be part of a new rail executive within the Department for Transport (DfT).

The shake-up of the department's rail side follows the West Coast rail franchise fiasco in 2012 which cost taxpayers millions of pounds.

Announcing the new rail set up today, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the rail executive would "support the drive to strengthen our focus on passengers, build an enhanced culture of commercial expertise and innovation and ensure greater co-ordination of improvements to track and

He said that a single team would manage the interdependencies between rolling stock, track, stations, freight and passenger services; and between existing services and HS2. The rail executive would also reduce the department's dependency upon consultants and "increase its ability to negotiate the best deal for passengers and the taxpayer".

Mr McLoughlin said the responsibilities of the Office of Rail Passenger Services would include delivery of the franchise programme and the management of existing franchises. It will be led by an externally recruited managing director and supported by non-executive board members.

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said: "Neither David Cameron nor his Transport Secretary has apologised for the West Coast franchise fiasco which cost taxpayers £50 million, and the subsequent extension of rail franchises at huge cost to the taxpayer.

"Their silence now is deafening on how this reorganisation will provide a better train service, cheaper tickets and better information for passengers struggling with a cost-of-living crisis. People realised long ago that you can't trust the Tories with the railways."