Speaking out: rail regulator Tom Winsor

Rail regulator Tom Winsor this week issued a briefing document outlining the `tough and effective’ stance he will take to stimulate investment in the railways and improve public confidence. He expressed the following views on key rail issues:

On public service:

`Railways are and will always be a public service. Passenger trains are run by the private sector, but this happens under contract between an arm of the state (the Strategic Rail Authority) and private sector companies.

On rail firms and the public:

`Railway companies must treat their customers with at least the same respect as they treat their shareholders. In fact they must do more – they must put the public interest before their commercial interests.’

On the independence of the rail regulator:

`The Strategic Rail Authority buys railway services from the private sector. It negotiates contracts with them and, unlike any other regulatory body, is a big funder of the industry in question. It is not appropriate that the SRA as the buyer of services should also have the right to decide the price of those services, or change the price during the term of a contract. An independent regulator is the right body to do this.’

On style of regulation:

`The policy is tougher, more effective regulation. Toughness is a means to an end. I will be as tough as I need be, but I have no wish or intention to shower the railway companies with enforcement orders.’