Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : SRA Publishes Final Annual Report [July 2005]

The press release issued by the Strategic Rail Authority on 21 July 2005.

The period covered (April ’04 – March ’05) saw passenger journeys top one billion, with a return to pre-Hatfield punctuality levels on key sections of the network.

SRA Chairman David Quarmby said: “This has been a year of steady and sustained performance improvement through the efforts of Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies, supported by the SRA. The railway carried more passengers than at any time since 1961, with passenger satisfaction levels at their highest and a dramatic fall in the number of passenger complaints. Freight traffic has continued its growth, now nearly 60% up on the low point of the mid 90’s.

“As confidence returns to the railway, there can be greater focus on the key longer term issues – getting unit costs down and addressing the huge prospective growth in passenger and freight demand.”

The SRA has continued to fulfill all its main functions during the year, while planning its transfer to the Department for Transport and other bodies.

Recent achievements by the Strategic Rail Authority, delivered in partnership with the rail industry include:

  • Acceleration and cost reduction of the £7 billion West Coast Main Line upgrade. 125mph tilt train operation started last September.
  • Delivery of the £2.5 billion upgrade of the Southern England commuter network which is on schedule to remove all Mark 1 slam door stock from the network and deliver 2,025 new vehicles by November 2005 (power supply upgrade work required to run the new trains is now complete).
  • Continued reform of the franchise regime with the start up of the Greater Anglia (One), Scottish, Northern and East Coast franchises, and initiation of franchise competitions for Integrated Kent, Greater Western and Thameslink/Great Northern.
  • Sustained the innovative planning of the railway with draft route utilisation strategies for Brighton Main Line, Greater Western, and West Midlands and consultation, on and detailed development of, draft regional planning assessments for the North East, North West and East of England.

David Quarmby added: “Over its five year life, the SRA provided essential leadership during periods of industry crisis. It has made a major contribution towards getting the railway where it is now and has helped lay the foundations for its future development and successful operation.

“We extend our hopes and good wishes to all those in the successor organisations – including many transferring from the SRA – as they take forward the challenging agenda for Britain’s railways.”

Since its establishment in February 2001, the SRA has, through a series of innovative policies and strategies:

  • Reformed and stabilised the passenger franchising regime, aligning the franchise model to one which better matches the structures and strengths of the typical train company and its ability to manage risk, and worked closely with the Train Operating Companies on performance management to deliver customers’ expectations.
  • Established a systematic and inclusive approach to long term railway planning, including the urgent task of achieving better capacity utilisation from today’s railway on a network and route basis, using this to inform the planning and specification of services as well as indicating priorities for network investment, through Regional Planning Assessments and Route Utilisation Strategies.
  • Set out through its Strategic Plans the vision and the pathways for the development of the railway for passenger and freight, using as key building blocks strategies which have been developed, consulted and published on a wide range of topics such as Fares Policy, Freight Interchanges, Community Rail, Accessibility, Rolling Stock and Gauging.
  • Introduced a much needed process of sponsorship and challenge for rail enhancement projects generally and led development of an industry strategy on ERTMS (the European Rail Traffic Management System).