UK: Railways Act

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Railways Act 2005

This wound up the Strategic Rail Authority, transferring most of its functions to the Department of Transport and some to the Scottish Government and to the Welsh Assembly Administration. Safety provisions in relation to the railways were transferred from the Health and Safety Commission and Executive to the Office of Rail Regulation.

The Secretary of State is empowered to provide financial assistance for any railway related purpose. The Scottish Government and National Assembly for Wales have similar powers in respect of railway freight services. The Scottish Government also acquired additional powers in respect of passenger railway services and railway infrastructure in Scotland. The National Assembly for Wales acquired additional powers in respect of passenger services only.

Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) can now enter into franchise agreements and agreements related to the quality of franchised rail services, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. Transport for London was given equivalent powers to the PTEs. The Secretary of State must consult PTEs where he or she intends to grant a franchise for railway services to, from or within the area of the PTE.

The Regional Rail Passengers’ Committees were replaced by the Rail Passenger Council that reports to the Secretary of State.

Railway operators are empowered to make bylaws governing the conduct of persons using the railways, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State or of the Scottish Government, as the case may be. The Scottish Government may also introduce penalty fare regulations and to establish a Code of Conduct for Protecting the Rights of Disabled Rail Users in Scotland.

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