Coaches and buses that do not comply with PSVAR will be eligible for a one-month exemption from the Regulations that starts on 1 January 2020 to allow their continued use on planned and unplanned rail replacement services.
The exemptions will expire on 31 January 2020. While the application form issued by DfT includes a mention of “at this time”, there is no official suggestion yet that a further period will be authorised. However, industry sources tell routeone that a longer-term exemption has already been proposed.
PSVAR exemption certificate is needed
As with the earlier exemption for certain home to school services, certificates should be carried on the vehicle when it is used on relevant work.
Applications should be completed by operators and submitted digitally to DfT by Friday (20 December) if certificates are to be issued by 1 January. It has set up an email address through which assistance can be sought.
When applying, it is necessary to include detail of the train operating company (TOC) that work is undertaken for and whether the application is for coaches or buses. Individual vehicle details are not required.
In a letter sent to TOCs last week, DfT encourages them to forward the information it contains to operators “urgently”.
In echoes of the letter regarding the partial home to school exemption, DfT says that it has “become aware that there is a significant shortage of PSVAR-compliant vehicles… to provide rail replacement services currently, or from 1 January 2020.”
Compliant vehicles expected to be used first
Although exemption certificates will be issued to all that apply for them, DfT still expects TOCs to do all they can to source PSVAR-compliant vehicles. Where non-compliant examples are used, alternative accessible transport must be “readily available”.
Legal advice obtained by the Office for Rail and Road earlier in 2019 indicated that almost all rail replacement services come under the scope of PSVAR.