The Office of Rail Regulation has told the government that there is a strong possibility that final charges will be below current levels in its advice on track access charges.
The variable track access charge for freight currently costs the industry £88m per year. The theoretical upper limit on any increase in this has been set by ORR at £99m. The lower limit, beyond which charges will definitely not fall, has been set as £41m per year. The next stage will see Network Rail make proposals for the new levels of charges by the autumn and the final level will be set by the end of 2008.
Christopher Snelling the Freight Transport Association’s head of rail freight and global supply chain, says: “The real debate starts now – what will Network Rail actually be able to charge the freight operating companies? We are pleased to see that ORR has stated an expectation that reductions in Network Rail’s costs, and thus track access charges, should be possible.”