Rail replacement PSVAR gets second exemption

The government has further extended a period of exemption for the use of non-PSVAR coaches and buses on planned and unplanned rail replacement services.

The initial short-term special authorisation expires on Friday (31 January). Last Thursday (23 January), DfT announced that a further exemption from PSVAR for rail replacement would be available. It begins on Saturday (1 February) and expiring on 30 April.

However, it gave operators only two working days, until Monday (27 January), to complete their applications for the exemption if they were to be approved in time for 1 February.

Why that compressed timeframe has occurred is unclear, but it is understood that it is due to a lack of a Ministerial decision on the further exemption until last week.

In a letter sent to train operating companies (TOCs) and rail replacement service providers, DfT said that while it would still accept exemption applications beyond 27 January, it could not guarantee that they would be processed in time for 1 February.

The letter also states that operators must submit applications for exemptions to either the TOC or the service provider that they work for. They will then forward the forms to the Rail Delivery Group, which will pass them to DfT.

DfT “will then review applications and make decisions on issuing special authorisation certificates accordingly,” it says. Individual vehicle details are not required. It is incumbent on either the TOC or rail replacement service provider to put in place suitable alternative accessible transport if non-PSVAR vehicles are used.