Minister of State for Transport Chris Heaton-Harris has outlined his expectation that the rail industry will manage a move to full PSVAR compliance on replacement road services.
In a letter to Rail Delivery Group (RDG) Chief Executive Paul Plummer, Mr Heaton-Harris says that “it remains extremely disappointing that the rail industry and train operators cannot provide fully accessible vehicles for all passengers” on rail replacement services.
The letter notes that the rail industry will at some point ensure that all such vehicles will eventually comply. It was issued at the same time that the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded a second exemption from PSVAR for coaches and buses used on rail replacement. That will expire on 30 April.
No timeframe or date is given for when Mr Heaton-Harris expects full compliance to be achieved. RDG has committed to producing “a robust and achievable” plan with a series of milestones and delivery dates as the sector works towards compliance with PSVAR on replacement services.
Nowhere in the letter does it state that the Minister expects the coach industry to illustrate how it will contribute to the achievement of PSVAR compliance on rail replacement. Instead, it seems that the problem is regarded as entirely the rail sector’s.
RDG’s plan is to be received by Mr Heaton-Harris by the Easter Parliamentary recess. That begins on 31 March. It is only on that basis that the second rail replacement PSVAR was approved, he says.
However, Mr Heaton-Harris adds: “I accept that were all non-compliant coaches and buses removed from providing rail replacement services there would be a disproportionately negative effect on the provision of… services for all passengers, given the number of compliant vehicles in the market.”