The Public Accounts Committee questioned the role of the Office of Rail and Road at the hearing, with PAC member Nigel Mills asking ORR Chief Executive Richard Price why the regulator was needed.
“Can I ask what on earth the point of your organisation is?” said Mills. “You regulate one nationalised body. It appears to have gone somewhat disastrously wrong. Why don’t we just take you out of the loop and save the money?”
Price claimed that the ORR’s actions have saved “something in the order of £15 billion over the past ten years”.
In turn, Mills accused the ORR of agreeing to a programme “that couldn’t possibly be done for anything like £38bn. That is pretty catastrophic.”
Responding to the accusation, Price told MPs: “I don’t think we or anyone else concluded at the time of the determination that that was the case. What we were confronted with first was a £25bn budget for running the core business, on which we had to establish efficient costs and a clarity around what Network Rail ought to deliver for that money in terms of train punctuality, improvements to the freight network and reliability of the network as a whole. On the enhancements portfolio, more than half of the projects were at a very early stage.
- For more on the Public Accounts Committee session, read RAIL 787, published today (November 11).