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Darling adds rail bureaucracy to hit list

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TRANSPORT SECRETARY Alistair Darling is planning a major crackdown on bureaucracy as part of his rail industry review.

In a speech last week he said he wanted to cut the number of staff employed to work out who was responsible for each late train.

He also gave further indications that he is planning what some describe as a 'bonfire of the safety regulations'.

Darling announced that he was reviewing the structure of the rail industry last month (NCE 22 January).

Last week he indicated he would attack rail bureaucracy, notably the Delay Attribution Scheme set up by rail regulator Tom Winsor with train operators and Network Rail.

The scheme employs about 200 staff from Network Rail and the train operators. It is their job to decide who is responsible for train delays so that compensation can be paid.

'There shouldn't be hundreds of people whose job is solely to decide who is responsible for each delay, ' Darling said.

'The public would really rather they were out there sorting things out.'

Darling confirmed his plan to attack the rail industry's risk averse safety culture.

'Safety is paramount, but the Health & Safety Executive has told me that there's now a plethora of industry standards, some of which are over cautious or are being applied in an overcautious way, ' Darling said.

'This must be compounded by the number of different organisations that are each setting safety standards.'

Adrian Lyons, chairman of industry body the Railway Forum, said the comments were 'the clearest explanation of what Darling is thinking about.

There's got to be a bonfire of the regulations'.

The forum said Darling's remarks last week about the impact of safety regulations on efficiency were evidence that he planned to cut back safety rules.

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