I am today (14 October 2014) announcing a consultation to consider the future of exemptions from the EC Regulation 1371/2007 on Rail Passengers’ Rights and Obligations Regulations.
The regulation sets out a number of obligations which the rail sector must comply with in full by 2024, including on transferability of tickets, assistance for disabled people, complaints processes, industry IT systems and information for all passengers. The aim of this consultation is to gather evidence to enable us to gain a better understanding of where the rail industry is already meeting, or exceeding, the EU standards, and to help us identify where we may be able to bring certain provisions into force earlier than the 2024 deadline required by the EU regulation.
The government is committed to raising standards for rail passengers across the country. The government seeks to do this in a way that secures the maximum benefit to fare payers and taxpayers. Currently the government is seeking to use the franchising programme to drive up standards for rail passengers, while at the same time securing cost efficiency savings that can then be passed onto farepayers and taxpayers.
When deciding on which exemptions to remove, we therefore want to ensure the right balance is struck between the benefits this would give passengers, the cost impact on taxpayers and the rail industry, the industry’s ability to meet the requirements, and government’s wider commitments to the principles of better regulation for an industry.
No final decisions have been taken on the issues covered in the consultation and the important evidence we gather during this process will help us take robust decisions on the removal of exemptions. At this stage, the indications are positive and we are proposing the removal of close to two thirds of the exemptions.
Nevertheless, it is important that we take the time to consider the benefits of removing exemptions, as well as any regulatory or cost burdens. The current exemptions in place expire shortly, and in order to allow further consideration of these important issues, we are first taking the step of renewing all exemptions in December (2014), to provide a holding position to allow the additional time for that detailed consideration.
The consultation will run for 10 weeks from today and all relevant documents are available at https://www.gov.uk/dft#consultations. The consultation document and associated consultation stage impact assessment will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses, as in due course will copies of the Statutory Instrument, Explanatory Memorandum, and Impact Assessment related to the renewal of the exemptions.