The Office of Rail and Road

Last week I met the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Office of Road and Rail. This body spends £32 million a year of our money on acting as economic and safety regulator of the railways, and acting as a new regulator of the Highways Agency, the government body that runs England’s roads.

I asked them why they had taken no action over Network Rail’s decision to take out foreign currency borrowings which I have warned against before. I asked why they had apparently taken no action over Network Rail’s derivative trading and hedging, nor intervened to stop losses or to complain about them. They reminded me that Network Rail’s finances are now under the control of the Treasury and they will not be making any more foreign currency loans, as if I was unaware of that change. They had no answer on the broader questions, and were taking no action over derivative losses.

They have been agonising over £2m of fines to Network Rail for poor performance. They wish to express their displeasure, but they do not wish to take too much money off a company owned by taxpayers and funded by taxpayers. They clearly have no sense of significant numbers. Network Rail happily lost more than £2m a day every day last year on financial derivatives , so I guess a single £2m fine is neither here nor there to them.

They were also asked about their attitude towards the prolonged closure of the M20 this summer in Operation Stack. They were asked about other options to allow this crucial highway to continue in use. Again they had no helpful answers, and showed no sign of wishing to change things for the better by using their powers.

I came away seeing little value in much of the £32 million spent each year on this body, as it is quite incapable of keeping a major motorway open, and uninterested in stopping major financial losses at Network Rail despite being their economic regulator. I think they said they had to add road regulation to their rail remit to meet EU requirements.Maybe their safety role for rail is better done than the financial regulation.

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58 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Indeed just like most of the rest of the state sector the benefit of the public, efficiency and economy is rarely of any concern to them.

    As an aside it took me nearly 30 minutes to queue and buy a rail ticket into London at Gatwick yesterday, missing two trains and arriving late for my meeting. Perhaps £200 of my wasted time and £20 for the ticket.

    Perhaps they need some more machines that actually work efficiently or more ticket staff to save to train journey times. Or just put the tickets machines on the trains or on mobiles phones, rather than pissing money down the drain on HS2 and the likes. Even if you buy in advance you have to queue for the machines to pick up the ticket. Yet the demand for ticket buying at Gatwick is fairly predictable, why on earth is ticketing so poorly run and so over complex?

    • Horatio McSherry
      Posted September 16, 2015 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      The idea about tickets on mobile devices (via a barcode) is excellent and is already available, but, only on a very limited number of services. You would think that the simplicity and convenience, the economics and logistics, to both passengers and train companies would mean they were used as widely as possible, as quickly as possible.

    • margaret
      Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Perhps the use of Skype ofor meetings would save money for all.

  2. Brian Taylor
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    So the only way to get shot of this Quango is to leave the EU.
    The case for getting our Democracy back is getting stronger everyday.

  3. David Price
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    “They have been agonising over £2m of fines to Network Rail for poor performance. They wish to express their displeasure, but they do not wish to take too much money off a company owned by taxpayers and funded by taxpayers. They clearly have no sense of significant numbers. Network Rail happily lost more than £2m a day every day last year on financial derivatives , so I guess a single £2m fine is neither here nor there to them. ”

    It is the people responsible within Network Rail who clearly have no sense of the significance of the money they are playing with. So the clear answer to the regulator’s conundrum is to target those individuals directly. You make the senior staff directly and personally responsible for losses and negative performance against objectives by setting their contract terms to include loss of bonus through reduction in compensation to being fired, losing their pension and losing their licence to act in a financial or directorial capacity.

    Individuals in the public and corporate sectors get away with much because there is clearly no fear of consequences disuading them from doing it. Introduce meaningful consequences for individuals and take concerted action on negligence, malfeasance and misfeasance and you would reduce such behaviour.

    • Mark
      Posted September 16, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Adding to fines simply adds to fares unless they come out of the personal pockets of the employees. Better instead to give affected passengers a discount.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 17, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        Indeed.

        Also with bank fines for example on the Libor rate manipulation. They fall mainly back on the customers who were largely the victims in the first place.

  4. MIke Stallard
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood.
    1. Jeremy Corbyn says he wants to renationalise the rail service. This seems to be quite a good idea in view of what you write – isn’t it? Except of course that he intends to print money to buy “more jobs” (i.e. an even bigger self serving bureaucracy).
    2. I suppose that you have no idea of the relations between DG Move and the rail authorities?

    Reply Network Rail, the main part of the railway is already nationalised, and the train companies operate under strict controls and contracts from the state. Railways are subject to increasing amounts of EU regulation.

  5. Pete
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Just one of many pointless, wasteful and counter productive government bodies that should be scrapped. A real Conservative administration would probably be doing so, shame we have Dave and chums instead.

  6. Richard1
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Excellent an unneeded quango has been identified – let’s close it and save the £32m, and release its employees for productive work in the economy for which there is real demand. There must be hundreds of such bodies. Parliament should set up a burden of proof exercise for quangos – if their work and costs isn’t justified, taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to pay for it.

  7. Brigham
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Is this one of the bodies that the tories were going to scrap? It is like the telephone preference service, identifies the problem but has seemingly no powers to do anything about it.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 16, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Indeed the first thing a quango does seems to be to augment and exaggerate the problem so they can demand more funding and resources.

  8. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    On one page of their website their “vision” is mentioned approximately five times.Very off-putting. Reminiscent of so many websites of over-large companies. They tire of the day-to-day business of getting the job done and branch out into:
    1. Contributions to charities
    2. Donations to political parties
    3. Diversification into industries and areas where they have not one iota of expertise.
    4. Foreign currency speculation

    But I am impressed by the quality of the persons in the Office of Road and Rail’s “Experts Panel”. One of them concluded in an outside published article that HS2 would not likely be an economically viable proposition especially from London to Birmingham. Not returning sufficient benefits given the expenditure.

    Many people of average brain-power wonder why it should take the most intelligent people in the land of government and their offices so long to conclude the obvious. The answer, in part, I believe, is because Intelligent application can have diminishing returns especially when “democracy” drums up the idea of panels, committees, think-tanks and advisory groups.

    Aside from that, it seems all government and all the kings horses and all the kings men still believe expansion of the rail and road network on this extremely disorderly assemblaged island is “essential” ; “desirable”; and, “economic progress”.

    One feels if these truly remarkably intelligent and accomplished individuals with magnificent qualifications had only had access at an infant age to a very large Lego set and toy electric trains and tracks their minds would have developed short-cuts in forming conclusions. It’s easier and more pleasant than “Sending them down to the countryside to learn from the workers and peasants”

  9. stred
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    This branch of the civil service has offices in 6 cities, 280 staff, 13 board members, is chaired by a lady civil servant and the CE is ex Treasury. A member of the board, a Tracy Barlow, is also on the Highways agency board. They are funded by levies on the railway. They have a statutory duty to look at the economics of the railway. Re Wiki and ORR website.

    No wonder we have the highest fares in the World and they are not interested in the gross waste you have identified or the farce in reducing areas of Kent to gridlock by refusing a contraflow as too dangerous.

  10. Tad Davison
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    These are the kind of holes we wish this government would plug. Perhaps then, we might not have food banks or the social cleansing so often referred to by the left. There has to be oversight and these organisations must be held to account. Wasting tax-payer’s money is not an option, especially with the overriding need to reduce spending.

    Tad

    • JoeSoap
      Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, link this to food banks and benefit cuts!
      When was the last time you heard this administration, supposedly right wing, speak along the lines of “we need to cancel x operation being available on the NHS unless we do away with y quango”. It’s pretty obvious, and it’s why these folk haven’t balanced the budget now in their 6 years at the helm.

  11. Roy Grainger
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Do we know why this body costs £32 million a year ? I mean do we have a specific breakdown of what that £32 is spent on ? How much is staff costs, offices etc. ? It seems a huge amount whether they are doing an effective job or not.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 17, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      I would guess nearly all is spend staff costs, team building exercises, mobiles phones, ipad type toys, consultants, “training”, PR indoctrination and premises costs.

  12. formula57
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    So yet another quango seemingly led by people who do not know what they are doing! Why is it needed, why cannot the responible Minister regulate the Highways Agency?

    Can we expect action from the government now as a result of your findings, or if “no”, will it be a case of awaiting Jez We Can?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 16, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      As it is only “Highways England”, since April 1st, that would really have to be the responsible minister in the non-existent devolved government of England.

      Meanwhile, Transport Scotland seems to think that it is regulating not only the roads but also the railways in Scotland:

      http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/rail

      and is accountable to the Scottish Parliament and government.

  13. CdBrux
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    If they are both the safety and financial regulator for rail then that is potentially worrying – the safety aspect must have a high degree of independance. If money needs spending on a safety related matter then there should not be any concern about where the money might come form in the budget, something else must be rephased.

    This is of course possible within the same organisation, but from the description given it doesn’t seem they are that switched on.

    Finally I notice the Chair of ORR stepped down a few days ago, maybe JR’s questioning had a significant effect?

  14. Duyfken
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    ORR is presently funded by Network Rail (and by DfT for roads). By the look of the website, this is a blossoming quango with no restriction on its activities or curbs on its outgoings. As a publicly-funded organisation, I would expect a clear and detailed annual statement of income and expenses to be published on its website, and elsewhere, but I’m dashed if I can find it.

    And to whom is ORR accountable? It says it is independent of government but does that absolve responsibility of the DfT in controlling its costs and monitoring its performance? With Network Rail’s financial debacle, it seems the whole composition of ORR’s Board should be questioned.

  15. Bert Young
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The ORR quango – and all the others should be disbanded immediately . I can see no point in any quango that sets itself up in an overseeing role and duplicating the central civil service . Who are these quangos answerable to other than themselves ? It is sheer madness to allow them to exist at the expense of the tax payer .

  16. JimS
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Directors of ALL organisations claim that they deserve high pay because they hold RESPONSIBLE positions, yet when things go wrong it is the organisation, or rather its shareholders and customers that gets to pay the fine.

    Don’t fine Railtrack £2M, fine the CEO £200k! Railtrack will never feel the pain, the CEO will.

  17. Iain Gill
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I wish you would do a similar analysis of the National Trust. A body hell-bent on letting our favourite beauty spots fall into the sea completely undefended from the elements. A body which operates as a (poor ed) landlord etc ed

  18. forthurst
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    “I think they said they had to add road regulation to their rail remit to meet EU requirements.”

    Is this why there has been no bonfire of the quangos, that many exist in compliance with EU law? When governments introduce laws and regulations in compliance with EU law without disclosing that fact, they deceive not only the public but parliamentarians whose duty is to hold government to account.

  19. Atlas
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    … yet another quango straight out of the ‘Yes Minister’ colouring book…

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I find from the press releases that it was still the Office of Rail Regulation on March 25th 2015 but had become the Office of Road and Rail on March 26th 2015, assuming its new role as the “independent strategic roads monitor” for England, the Highways Agency having been renamed Highways England, although the original name “will continue to be used in all documents, decisions and matters having legal effects or consequences until a formal name change is confirmed by legislation in October 2015” …

    On a very quick search I can find nothing on its website to indicate that this change was driven by the EU. Certainly there’s a huge mass of EU law involved in its work with the railways, which can be found simply by searching for the word “European”:

    http://orr.gov.uk/about-orr/what-we-do/the-law/eu-law

    “The EU has an ambitious strategy for rail: the creation of a single, efficient and competitive market for rail throughout Europe. It aims to achieve this through … ”

    Of course that is precisely what we all wanted and expected when Heath took us into the EEC and we then overwhelmingly voted to stay in that so-called “Common Market”, we all knew that it would end up running everything in the country, in fact it would turn the whole of Europe (plus some extras outside Europe) into a single country.

    However, turning off the sarcasm, that page dates from last July and there is no update to prove that EU law or policy has driven the extension of its remit to roads.

    It does seem a little strange that this body regulates railways across the whole of an EU member state, the UK, on behalf of the EU, but only regulates strategic roads in one part of that member state, England. Presumably there are three other bodies performing that function for the three other parts of the UK?

    • Mark
      Posted September 16, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      I note that roads are their FIFTH priority, despite carrying far more traffic than the railways. Given the historic allegiance to the rail system, the organisation is hardly fitted to giving appropriate priority to roads: indeed, they make seek to push legislation and actions in favour of rail, such as limiting motorway speeds, ensuring motorway journeys are lengthened by 20 mile sections of roadworks and so forth.

      Of course they are only responsible for the motorways and most important A roads in England – other roads remain the responsibility of councils, and other arrangements apply in the rest of the UK. It doesn’t smack of a sensible arrangement.

  21. Bob
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Thank you for highlighting the incompetence of this quango Mr Redwood.
    Will your government be sacking the individuals who have failed their employers (the taxpayer)?

    I see that Mr Osborne has paid £2.9 billion to the EU in settlement of their demand for £1.7 billion. I thought we were due a rebate on the £1,7b but we seem to have paid some kind of surcharge. Is it a late payment penalty?

  22. Roy Grainger
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Actually I have just realised that under one of its slightly different former names I had a friend who worked for this organisation for many years. So now my response to John’s criticisms of it are “Not surprised”.

  23. Colin Hart
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    A Conservative Government would have scrapped the ORR and made both Network Rail and the Highways Agency answerable to the Secretary of State for Transport who in turn would be answerable to Parliament.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted September 16, 2015 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

      Yes but the Secretary of State for Transport can’t monitor rail and traffic.

      Until today I didn’t know how this all worked, but now I’ve looked at the websites and see briefly there is some logic to it.

      Highways England is responsible for road performance-at its heart whether I get from A to B in a reasonable time. However, their website just has vague aspirations and no metrics. I’d be more impressed if they were directly responsible to government for a number of things such as the following. ORR would be needed as an extended arm of the taxpaying road user to inspect and monitor their effectiveness in meeting targets, and should just have a simple page stating whether Highways Agency had done so or not and if not why not.

      -average driving times between a range of destinations
      -effect of increased spending on roads on reducing these times
      -monitor achievement of both quality and deadlines in new roads built
      -assumptions they are making about car usage, freight transport usage etc.
      -non-linear effects of more vehicles in a crowded country on journey times

      For rail I’d see it similarly. Set criteria on journey times, safety, quality. ORR should be there on behalf of the customer to say whether or not the standards are being met on an operational level. Of course the derivative losses are also hugely important, but shouldn’t you be addressing these questions to the Treasury Minister who hands the Network Rail folks the money to blow on gambling? Surely it should indeed be the Treasury which sets the rules and referees them for the financial side of things?

      Looking at ORR’s website, they seem more concerned about competition law than looking out for the day to day rail user. There seem to have been a proliferation of reports on investments in the 2009-10 period, but not a lot done since. Again, why don’t we see performance demands and results across the piece?

      • JoeSoap
        Posted September 16, 2015 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        And PS why doesn’t Highways England say they are changed from Highways Agency because Scotland has been removed from their remit, rather than some other gobbledygook about having more funding and being more effective? You have to be pretty daft not to see the true reason for such a name change!

  24. Mercia
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Good job holding them to account

  25. English Pensioner
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Moving work once carried out by the Civil Service to “Government Agencies” and to “Regulators” is, in the main, a method used by Government Ministers to avoid direct responsibility for the responsibilities transferred to those bodies. Operating at “arm’s length”, the Minister of Transport can claim that the hold-ups on the M20 are not now his responsibilities as they have been transferred to the statutory bodies of the Highways Agency and the Office of Road and Rail Regulation. The other “advantage” is that these bodies can more easily ignore complaints, something that was difficult to do when they were part of the civil service and the complainant was likely to take up the issue with his MP, something he can’t do when it comes to these new bodies.

    Things were far better when they were run by the old civil service and probably cost a lot less as they didn’t require fancy offices, highly paid chairmen and chief executives (complete with bonuses). No doubt there is now also the additional cost within the sponsoring department brought about by civil servants needed to liaise with these statutory Authorities, as there was in the case of the government authority that I worked for before retiring.

  26. Leslie Singleton
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Dear John–Why did the Government feel it had to take this EU “requirement” seriously in the first place and how does the relative (dead) “body” manage to spend £32 million a year? Look after the millions and the billions will look after themselves. If as is apparently the case the view is taken that we must kow-tow to Brussels, why can we not staff the body with just one man and a dog in a tent which would achieve just as much.

  27. Grumpy Goat
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Sigh! The ORR maybe a problem. But the real issue is how the Rail industry is structured in this country! Too many quangos with finger in the pie. A structure which separates the private train operating companies (TOCs) from the nationalised track infrastructure (NR) just causes problems. Better solution would be to have the TOCs owing the track as well. Providing long term franchises, say over 25 years, which will allow these companies to gain a ROI on their investment and perhaps able to access funding from the infrastructure financiers such as Insurance funds, foreign and UK, and the Sovereign funds who want to park their monies in long term investments.

  28. Martyn G
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    All quangos declare their aims and visions which, when examined, indicate that the main reason for their existence is promote themselves and thereby assure their continued existence, regardless of cost or inefficiency. They sometimes compete with others to show their own importance – for example, the Environment Agency (EA) set out its Thames dredging plans for 2015 and positioned dredgers and barges ready to start work. Suddenly the Fisheries Agency (FA) banned dredging and so for 6 months or so we have had dredgers and barges sat idle on the river and all the EA could do was to set out more shoal marker buoys. My local lock now has a line of 5 buoys downstream and I have lost track of the number of hire boats going aground, their pilots being less experienced of standard navigation markers (going upstream pass to the right of red buoys and left of green buoys; going downstream pass to the left of red buoys and to the right of green buoys).
    Now that the main boating season is over and complaints from boaters going aground are dwindling, it is rumoured that dredging may now soon start. Not sure that that makes sense because if we have even a normally wet winter, with the higher river levels and stronger streams silt shoals will probably build up again over winter. None can tell me why is it that the FA, responsible only for fish in the river, can overrule the EA who are responsible for the maintenance and safe navigation of the river. Daft I call it…

  29. a-tracy
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Who appoints them,
    Who sets their targets,
    Who holds them to task , The Minister for Transport?
    Report your findings to them and tell them to take action, disciplinary action, final warnings if things don’t improve this year.
    The newspapers should be reporting on things like this, instead of concentrating on losses in one sector this is a public service letting the public down and no-one is accountable.

  30. lojolondon
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    They honestly, just don’t care. Like the environment agency, which you accurately pointed out, John, spend £1 Billion, only £20 Million of which was on dredging rivers, and saying that the floods were due to ‘climate change’. I am deeply against ‘fines’ for public bodies. How on earth does it benefit the UK if a public body gives taxpayers money to another public body for being found making a mistake?? At the end of the year, they will likely claim they are short and the Treasury will give them more next year… ridiculous! Getting fired, properly, is the only solution. And when a person is fired, they should not be able to work for another public institution for 20 years. This to stop the old-boys merry-go-round where a person fails in one area and immediately gets another senior role in another, completely unrelated public organisation, only to fail once again.

  31. Shieldsman
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    In answer to Colin Hart do we actually have a Conservative Government.
    When you review the General Election the Lib/Dems were virtually wiped out. Cameron has moved the Conservatives so far to the left he has usurped the position previously held by the Lib/Dems and the electorate saw no point in voting for two parties with the same policies. To have voted for the Lib/Dems would only have put a Labour Government in power and common sense prevailed.
    The Office of Road and Rail is just another useless Quango which failed to carry out its task of regulating. Like many others Quango’s real Conservatives would scrap it.
    As the last Environment Agency chief explained the Treasury laid down funding rules for the EA. So in Smith’s mind, it’s the Treasury’s fault. Eric Pickles thinks it’s Chris Smith’s fault. But regardless of who is right about which group of people mucked this up, it is right, really, that politicians should get the blame for this. The Environment Agency is quite a blessing, in many ways, if you’re a minister: like many quangos it’s a catchall not-me-guv for politicians who nobly ‘depoliticise’ decisions by farming them out to ‘independent’ bodies which also serve as tremendously useful and unaccountable scapegoats when the chips are down.

    In the news the Northern Powerhouse is about to lose the Redcar steel works!!
    The good news, Vauxhall chief has said leaving the EU will not affect its car plants in UK.

    • CdBrux
      Posted September 17, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      The other advantage all these bodies have for politicians is to provide a nice comfy job once they have stepped down or been voted out.

  32. Know-Dice
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Another one to add to the “bonfire”

    The Legal Ombudsman…completely useless, will not look into the fees charged by a solicitor, more interested in getting their gender and ethnicity form tick box” filled in.

  33. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    One EU inspired requirement for safety on our roads is to force HGVs to have speed governors fitted to their engines, so that they cannot travel at more than 60 mph. As a consequence, on our 3 lane motorways, you often find one HGV travelling at 58 mph, another HGV travelling at 60 mph taking an eternity to overtake it, and 3 cars travelling at 70, 80 and 90 mph, all trying to overtake both HGVs and aiming for the 3rd lane. And this is supposed to help safety.

  34. DaveM
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Totally Off Topic, so I apologise John.

    A couple of weeks ago I wrote that, following an appearance on Marr, I thought Corbyn came across as OK (although I did stress I wouldn’t want him running the country).

    If I was invited to attend a ceremony at the “Anti-English-pro-EU-super-lefty-tree-hugging council of western european islands” I would turn up dressed smartly, and behave respectfully and politely, no matter what I thought of the people surrounding me. That’s called manners.

    Corbyn’s behaviour over the last 24 hours has been rude – if my 14-year-old behaved as such I would be seriously angry with him.

    To that end, I would like to retract my former statement in light of the fact that I now believe Corbyn to be an utter prize prat.

    Blair once visited a Royal Marines establishment where I was working, and no matter what I may have thought of him, he behaved impeccably and with total respect for his hosts and surroundings. If Corbyn ever turned up he’d be lucky to get on the base. Come to Plymouth Jezza…….I dare you.

  35. Mike Wilson
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Slightly off topic – but on the subject of motorways closing – when is someone going to tell the police to stop closing motorways every time there is a minor accident.

    It is getting beyond a joke these days – one regularly sits in stationary traffic for hours on motorways because some idiot can’t stay far enough away from other cars on a road with no tee junctions, roundabouts, traffic lights, pedestrians, cyclists or other considerations. Apparently the scene of an accident on a motorway is classified as a ‘CRIME SCENE’. Why? For heaven’s sake – WHY?

    Someone has a prang and the police think it is okay to hold up tens of thousands of people in massive queues – often for hours. It has got to the point where I take sandwiches, chocolate, water and a toilet roll with me whenever I go on a motorway journey.

    If people are stupid enough to have an accident on a motorway – shunt their cars on to the hard shoulder – get recovery vehicles to remove them and let the traffic flow.

    Anyone who causes an accident on a motorway should be banned for driving for life.

    Why don’t the police every prosecute the idiots who tail-gate on motorways. They are the clowns that cause the accidents.

  36. Nigel
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    What happened to the “bonfire of the quangos” that DC promised us?

  37. Mark
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    The RAC have been pointing out that the UK is now 45% dependent on imports of diesel fuel as the proportion of diesel fuelled vehicles has risen, and as the UK continues to lose oil refineries (to green taxes that make them unprofitable to run and invest in). Will the ORR have a word with the Department for Transport and DECC and the Treasury?

    Do we really want to become dependent on the few countries that have diesel for export, such as Saudi Arabia and Russia? Perhaps the FCO might like to think about it too.

  38. Richard
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Instead of the govvernment selling rail franchises to the highest bidder they should be hiring the lowest bidder for simply running the franchises.

  39. bigneil
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    “quite incapable of keeping a major motorway open”
    can you tell us what will happen when thousands arrive here from the mass cross Europe migration – and will just walk on OUR motorways? like they have already done elsewhere. I assume that we are to be told we should welcome these “poor penniless” people who strangely all appear to have smartphones, which are charged ?- -always seems clean ? don’t appear to be starving – -and – – have a belief that they can walk into Europe, and do whatever THEY want to do.
    Now rioting in the “safe countrys of the EU, with covered faces to mask facial features, throwing rocks at the symbols of authority in that country how can they expect to be welcomed ANYWHERE? who would employ them? once here the family will follow – all here for us to be given the dubious pleasure of having our taxes handed over to them as a reward for coming, so they can walk around demanding, and getting, changes to what THEY want this country to be.
    When is Cameron going to resign – and take his job as Merkel’s boot polisher?

  40. Jon
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    The press should be doping their job also and picking up on your investigations over a prolonged period.

    Taking public money to trade in derivatives from an organisation that does rail is astonishing.

    Dissapointed in the media, more concerned with silly little things than the big issues like this waste. They will criticise and delve long into firms like Equitable Life, rightly so that was criminal, but why not this??

    Lets face it the Directors remuneration was probably going to get a massive bonus if the derivatives turned good but nothing bad if it didn’t. I’d say there is a word beginning with F for that if it was found to be the case.

    What is the FCA’s view on this? Yes I think spending public money on derivatives is as much of their remit as whether someone should have had their pension transferred.

    This is one that should be banged to rights its total speculation and are their bonuses related to that?

    • a-tracy
      Posted September 21, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      This is all true Jon I agree, also local councils, ours took a punt with Icelandic Banks, when they took their half a million they topped up their pensions pot losses with ratepayers money.

  41. yosarion
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Yet another bonfire smouldering on under the Firelighter General.

  42. Ken Moore
    Posted September 16, 2015 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    For a budget of 30 million employing 288 staff (what do they all do day ??) the ORR seems to have done remarkably little. It seems like just another job creation scheme.

    It s(as most quangos do) as a means of deflacting any blame and minimising ministerial accountability. What was all that hot air about a’ bonfire of the quangos’ pre 2010?. Rather than abolish this one, the Conservatives have just widened it’s powers to include highways. Really Jeremy Corbyn might as well be in charge as this lot.

  43. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 17, 2015 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    Even if we do not radically change the structure of rail privatisation, clearly Notwork Rail should be reprivatised. It would then be essential to allow a resurrected Railtrack to charge what it liked for track access charges, negotiating customer by customer, without any interference from any politician. It was Byers and Prescott depressing track access charges that led to the original Railtrack’s demise.

  44. Anonymous
    Posted September 17, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    As a spotter it breaks my heart to see money lost to the railway in this and HS2.

    – there is nothing illegal about organisations trading in derivatives rather than allowing yet-to-be-spent monies to be withered by QE and inflation

    – bankers – the so called professionals in this field – get this spectacularly wrong too and receive massive government bailouts rather than fines

  45. miami.mode
    Posted September 17, 2015 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    It would appear that you have got the same sort of answers that we expect from politicos, quangos, government agencies et al when they are interviewed on TV or radio. Even Commons Committees have problems extracting meaningful answers from many of their “interviewees”. ‘Twas ever thus.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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