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PPP arbiter Chris Bolt heads New Year honours list for construction

London Underground Public Private Partnership disputes arbiter Chris Bolt has been awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the New Year’s honours list.

The CB is awarded for a pre-eminent and sustained contribution in the arts, science, medicine, or government.

Bolt won the honour for his work as PPP arbiter and his former role as chairman of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). He stood down as ORR chair after five years in July. He had held the role since the ORR’s inception in July 2004.

An economist by training, Bolt has worked in a number of government departments including HM Treasury, the Home Office, Department of the Environment and Ofwat. He also worked in the then Office of the Rail Regulator and was himself Rail Regulator from 1998-99. From there he moved to the private sector working in senior roles at Transco.

His time as chairman of ORR saw major changes within the organisation. The new Board structure was introduced in 2004 and the Railways Act 2005 reinforced and extended the role of ORR by transferring to it responsibility for safety regulation. The ORR successfully engaged with both the Health and Safety Executive and the industry to ensure a seamless transfer of safety regulation responsibilities.

The ORR looked at the framework of industry incentives and industry processes to ensure that they were better focused on delivering continuing improvements in performance. To demonstrate better the impact on rail users, ORR introduced new publications such as the Network Rail Monitor and the National Rail Review, as well as developing National Rail Trends, to report on what was being achieved in terms of both regulatory targets and customer expectations. ORR took action to secure improvements, for instance in timetabling and and the planning of engineering work.

The last three years have been dominated by the periodic review of the mainline railway and in particular of Network Rail’s outputs and funding. Network Rail now has firm funding and regulatory targets for the next five years.

On almost all measures it has been a successful five years for the industry.

The merger of economic and safety regulation has brought a better focus to both and this is reflected in ORR’s strategy for the next five years, published in December 2008, which summarises its role as ‘promoting safety and value in Britain’s railways’.

Other construction-related honours are slim on the ground this year.

Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Cambridge and former ICE Council member Robert Mair was awarded the CBE for services to engineering. ICE past president David Orr and Chiltern Railways chairman Adrian Shooter are also awarded the CBE.

Welsh Highland Railway Construction chairman Michael Hart gets the OBE, and Adamson Group chairman Manus Adamson and H&J Martin chairman William Martin get the MBE for services to the construction industry.

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