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SRA given bigger role in promoting railways

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THE STRATEGIC RAIL Authority will be given the power to introduce legislation designed to boost the development of Britain's railways, the Transport Bill revealed this week.

The Bill states that the SRA will be charged with promoting use of the railways for passenger and freight transport, developing the railway network and contributing to 'the development of an integrated system of transport'.

The SRA will be granted powers to promote and oppose Parliamentary Bills. The Authority may also enter into agreements, acquire or dispose of property, invest money and form, acquire or dispose of companies.

The SRA will be able to provide grants to local authorities which are carrying out work to support railway services. The Bill makes it clear that the SRA can become involved in the development of metro, light rail or tram systems.

The Bill also sets out the SRA's responsibilities for encouraging co- operation between road and rail freight operators, emphasising the importance of the Channel Tunnel as a route between the UK and the Continent.

The SRA will take on limited extra powers to provide freight and passenger services in place of an operator which loses its franchise.

The Bill confirms that the SRA is to operate autonomously in England and Wales.

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