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The Rail Vehicle Accessibility (Interoperable Rail System) Regulations 2008

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EXPLANATORY NOTE

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These Regulations pave the way for the introduction on the 1st July 2008 of European accessibility standards for passenger rail vehicles on the “interoperable rail system”. This rail system comprises the major lines of the main line rail system of the UK, representing about 70% by track miles of the mainline network. They remove these lines from the scope of national rail vehicle accessibility legislation, to prevent there being two differing regulatory regimes for vehicle accessibility on them, and make consequential and supplementary provision.

The European accessibility standards are set out in the Technical Specification for Interoperability relating to persons with reduced mobility which is annexed to Decision 2008/164/EC of the European Commission of 21st December 2007 (O.J. No. L 64, 7.3.08, p. 72). They will apply in the UK under the Railways (Interoperability) Regulations 2006 (S.I. 2006/397) (“RIR”).

In particular the Regulations remove the interoperable rail system from the scope of the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 1998 (“RVAR”) (regulation 2) and makes an adjustment to the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 which will have the effect of removing the system from the scope of the rail vehicles provisions of Part V of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (regulation 3).

Rail vehicles hitherto subject to RVAR (or their Northern Ireland equivalent) which have been operating on the interoperable rail system since before RIR became applicable to them from 1st August 2006 for renewals or upgrades, are deemed to have been authorised under RIR regulation 4 and to have been assessed against the technical standards in RVAR (or their Northern Ireland equivalent) (as notified national technical rules) for that authorisation (regulation 4(5) inserting new RIR regulation 4A). The effect will be to make operators subject to the duty in RIR regulation 12 to operate and maintain those vehicles to those standards. This duty will be enforceable under RIR in place of the enforcement provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Consequential and supplementary adjustments are made to RIR. In particular RIR regulation 12 is amended to exempt vehicles assessed against RVAR standards from compliance with those standards if and to the extent that exemptions from those standards have previously been authorised (regulation 4(8) (a) and (b)). New RIR regulation 4(9A) is inserted to clarify that “authorisation” in RIR paragraphs 4(8) and (9) includes a deemed authorisation under new RIR regulation 4A, (regulation 4(4) (c)). Such deemed authorisation will not trigger the duties relating to technical files in RIR regulation 11, nor those relating to the national vehicle register in RIR regulation 33, (regulation 4(7) and (9)).

The Regulations provide that all passenger vehicles operating on the interoperable rail system must comply with accessibility standards by 2020 (regulation 4(5) inserting new RIR regulation 4B). Those standards are the European accessibility standards, or RVAR (or their Northern Ireland equivalent), or a mix of the two, subject to any derogations or determinations granted under the limited powers in RIR to grant exemptions from European technical standards. The power, by determination, to grant exemptions is extended to apply to the whole interoperable rail system (regulation 4(6)). New RIR regulation 4B is to be complied with even by vehicles deemed under new RIR regulation 4A (2) to have been assessed against RVAR, and notwithstanding any obligation under RIR regulation 12 to keep a vehicle in the condition in which it was assessed for authorisation (regulation 4(5) inserting into RIR new regulation 4A (6) (a), and regulation 4(8) (b) inserting into RIR new regulation 12(5)).

RIR regulation 3 (application) is adjusted, with minor modifications, to ensure all vehicles to which new RIR regulations 4A (2) and 4B apply are brought within its scope (regulation 4(3)).

Modifications are made to RIR to clarify that for renewals and upgrades of rolling stock, although an authorisation under RIR regulation 4 is for the vehicle, the “project subsystem” to be assessed against required standards is that part of it to which works have been carried out (regulation 4(2) and (4) (a) and (b)).

An impact assessment of the effect these Regulations will have on the costs of business can be obtained from the Department for Transport, Great Minister House, 76 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DR. It is also annexed to the Explanatory Memorandum published with these Regulations on the Office of Public Sector Information website, (www.opsi.gov.uk).

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