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Rail and road industries 'must become less cost-obsessed'

3126086 track and station improvements at shenfield completed as tfl rail services return 269219

Rail and road projects must be assessed on their outcomes rather than purely on cost, the incoming industry regulator chair has warned.

Declan Collier, who has now been approved as the next chair of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), made the remarks at a pre-appointment hearing intended to add legitimacy to appointments approved by parliament’s Transport Committee.

In the hearing, the future ORR chair was asked if he thought the industries of rail and road were not very customer-focussed and if he sought to change any behaviours should he take the position.

Collier responded: “I think in any heavy capital-intensive industry, the issues that you tend to see over time is that the professional focus of the industry tends to be to almost come down specifically to operational excellence and then budgetary excellence.

“And what happens is it squeezes out the needs of the users, whether they be freight companies in this case or indeed passengers.”

He added: “So what I would be hoping to do with the work of the ORR if I was confirmed would be to get the organisation to think more about the end users, to think more about the customers and passengers travelling and the companies using the sector, and to drive incentives around that for the Network Rail and indeed the train operating companies to respond.”

Grayling announced Collier as his preferred candidate for ORR chair in August this year.

In a letter he wrote in August, Grayling claimed: “[Collier] had a distinguished record in the transport sector and broader customer facing industry, with strong senior level experience.”

Collier retired from the role of chief executive of London City Airports in 2018, a role which he started in 2012. Prior to working there, he was the chief executive of Dublin Airports Authority. He has also worked in senior roles for in Exxon Mobil and Esso Ireland.

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