Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : SRA Gauging Policy Agreed by Rail Industry [June 2005]

The press release issued by the Strategic Rail Authority on 24 June 2005.

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has today published its final Gauging Policy, following a 3 month consultation. The Policy is designed to ensure that the industry makes the optimum use and deployment of its existing rolling stock and infrastructure. It offers benefits over the short, medium and long term – for both passengers and freight customers.

The Policy is the result of twelve months cross-industry collaboration and summarises the key findings of the cross-industry study group and their proposals. The Policy does not require substantial additional investment; instead most improvements can be realised through greater certainty and planning.

The key components that it is anticipated that the Policy will deliver are:

  • Detailed maps, supported by descriptive databases defining where both freight and passenger vehicles are cleared to run;
  • Much-simplified gauging approvals procedures (little formality should be required where a vehicle’s gauge is compatible with that stated for the infrastructure);
  • A reduced number of standardised passenger vehicle gauges, in most cases larger than those in use today and optimised for defined types of operations and classes of route, each able to operate over an extensive portion of the network;
  • A defined ‘core network’ for gauge-sensitive freight traffic;
  • A wider range of standard and more easily comprehensible freight vehicle gauges to best suit the markets’ requirements and reap maximum benefit from the available gauge opportunities;
  • A target structure gauge configuration defined on a route-by-route basis, taking account of both passenger and freight needs; and
  • Optimised track position, to be achieved over time by routine maintenance with new and renewed structures being built to the defined gauge.

The Policy works towards creating a more holistic approach to investment in the industry by looking at the value for money to be obtained from addressing pinch points in the infrastructure rather than designing and procuring new fleets of trains.

SRA Chairman, David Quarmby, said:

“This Gauging Policy shows there is still great untapped potential within Britain’s existing railway network. It provides a framework to improve the fit between track and trains and facilitate improved services for both passengers and freight customers. I look forward to the Policy being taken forward energetically under the aegis of the Rail Safety and Standards Board, with the full support of the industry behind them.”

Andrew McNaughton, Chair, joint industry Vehicle-Structures System Interface Committee, said:

“This is a significant step forward in defining the railway that freight and passenger operators seek, to ensure the UK rail network develops to meet the needs of the coming years. It has been constructed by leading representatives of the whole railway industry working together co-operatively to balance commercial aspirations for growth with the physical realities of our Victorian heritage. The work of defining precise train and network sizes can now move forward quickly.”