Station departure board (Photo ORR)

UK: The Office of Rail & Road has decided not to proceed with two changes to Network Rail’s network licence, after receiving mixed responses to the proposals.

The first of the changes prompted by Network Rail’s Better Timetables for Passengers & Freight reform programme would have removed an explicit reference to 12 weeks in advance as the deadline for timetables to be confirmed; ORR had said an eight-week timescale would be in line with informal arrangements used since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

The definition of Relevant Timetable Changes would also have been modified in an effort to improve clarity.

Announcing its decision not to make the changes on July 28, ORR said it had received mixed responses to the T-12 proposal, which it has now decided would ‘remove an important layer of visibility and transparency’. The second proposed modification was deemed to bring limited benefit.

The decision was welcomed by train operator owning group association Rail Partners, which said ’any proposal reducing the advance booking period from 12 weeks to eight weeks on a permanent basis would negatively impact passengers and hamper rail’s ability to compete with more carbon intensive modes including air — which benefits from longer booking horizons’.