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Transport Act 2000

Sections 205 to 210: Purposes, Strategies and Exercise of Functions

188.Sections 205 to 210 set out the framework within which the Authority must work to bring strategic leadership to the railway industry, with a hierarchy of purposes, strategies and duties. They set out purposes for which the Authority is established and how it should seek to achieve those purposes.

189.Section 205 sets out the primary, high level, purposes of the Authority: what might be called its “objectives” or “mission”. These purposes are:

  • to promote the use of the railway network for passengers and freight;

  • to secure the development of the railway network; and

  • to contribute to the development of an integrated system of transport of passengers and freight.

190.The Authority has to explain how it will give effect to these purposes through strategies which it must formulate and keep under review (section 206). These will still be at a high level. One strategy must relate to services in various parts of Great Britain for facilitating the use of the Channel Tunnel.

191.The Authority must consult the Rail Regulator, the Scottish Ministers, the National Assembly for Wales, and other persons as it thinks fit, before formulating a strategy and as part of keeping its strategies under review. The Authority is to publish its strategies. The Secretary of State has the power to give directions and guidance to the Authority as to, for example, the matters to be covered by the strategies. Any directions and guidance issued to the Authority are to be published (seesection 209).

192.The Authority will need to exercise its functions (that is all the powers and duties which it has in sections 211 to 222, both those inherited from the Franchising Director, the British Railways Board, the Rail Regulator and the Secretary of State and those freshly conferred by the Act) with a view to furthering its purposes in accordance with any strategies which it has formulated (section 206). It will also need to exercise its functions in a manner best calculated to achieve the considerations set out in section 207(2)(a) to (f) and to have regard to the considerations in section 207(3).

193.The considerations in sections 207(2) and (3) are broadly aligned with the Regulator’s duties under section 4 of the Railways Act 1993 (“the 1993Act”) (as amended by the Act). If they pull in different directions the Authority will need to do what it considers to be most appropriate, balancing all relevant considerations.

194.The term “users” in section 207(2)(a) includes passengers, freight customers, train service operators and, where appropriate, railway facility providers. “Railway services” is defined in section 82 of the 1993 Act and covers passenger, freight, light maintenance, station and network services.

195.The Authority must ensure that any payment made, or other financial assistance given, by it are such as it reasonably considers will further its purposes economically and efficiently. This duty includes all payments made by the Authority, whether by way of grant, under a franchise agreement, or under any other agreements made to secure provision, improvements etc. of services. This provision is based on a similar duty laid on the Franchising Director in section 5 of the 1993 Act (which will be repealed) and is often referred to as the “value for money” duty.

196.The Secretary of State may give directions and guidance to the Authority as to what it should do to achieve its purposes in a way best calculated to balance the various section 207 considerations. The Secretary of State may also direct the Authority not to exercise a function in a particular manner or not to exercise it without first consulting him or obtaining his consent. For example, the Secretary of State may direct the Authority that they may only set up freight grant schemes which comply with European obligations. However, the Authority’s duty to obtain value for money in any payments which it makes or any other financial assistance which it gives cannot be overidden by the directions and guidance.

197.The Scottish Ministers may also give directions and guidance to the Authority for services which start and end in Scotland. The Authority must implement these provided that they do not conflict with the Secretary of State’s directions and guidance or the Authority’s financial framework. The Scottish Ministers may also give directions and guidance on Scottish sleeper services, which the Authority must implement provided that they do not conflict with the Secretary of State’s directions and guidance or the Authority’s financial framework, and provided they do not impact on other services or the non-Scottish budget. The Scottish Ministers may, in addition, give advice to the Authority on all other cross border services (ie the non sleeper services).

198.Section 210 protects transactions of the Authority from being invalidated on the grounds merely that it has failed to comply with a requirement to take proper account of all the considerations in sections 207 and 208.

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