NIC0037             

Supplementary written evidence submitted by the Office of Rail and Road

 

Thank you for your letter of 7 March 2022. I hope that my response below provides you with the information that you have requested.

 

The Cabinet Office is the overall departmental lead for the resilience of CNI. What engagement have you had with the Cabinet Office on the forthcoming Resilience Strategy?

  1. ORR is the independent safety and economic regulator for Britain’s railways and monitor for England's strategic road network. We operate within a framework set by legislation and are accountable to Parliament. ORR does not deal directly with the Cabinet Office on resilience matters with engagement led by the Department for Transport (DfT) on our behalf. ORR only engages directly with the Cabinet Office on matters in relation to cyber security.
  2. On climate change resilience, ORR engages with the following central government departments:

 

Does your lead department host a forum for operators and/or regulators to discuss climate resilience specifically?

  1. No, however ORR is part of many helpful forums with operators and other regulators. ORR holds quarterly meetings with the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency where climate change resilience is regularly discussed.

 

  1. ORR is also an active member of the Infrastructure Operators Adaptation Forum and the Sustainable Rail Leadership Group in order to share common approaches to deliver climate change resilience with other key organisations. The Sustainable Leadership Group oversees the development of the new sustainable rail strategy for the period to 2050. The new strategy aims to provide a blueprint for a range of sustainable development goals for the industry, including climate change resilience. The DfT will consider funding and outputs against the strategy for the next rail funding control period for 2024-2029.

 

  1. ORR hosts regular forums with Network Rail to discuss and review progress across a range of activities and disciplines which align to climate change resilience. ORR also hosts meetings with Network Rail at a regional and national level to review progress of regional level weather resilience and climate change adaptation plans for the current control period which covers the period from 2019-2024.

 

  1. Furthermore, ORR engages with DfT on climate change resilience as part of the periodic review process, which takes place every five year, and the re-forecasting process which is undertaken three times every year. These discussions include:

Numerous witnesses have suggested that the Government should play a stronger role in addressing interdependencies between CNI sectors. What specifically do you think the Government should be doing differently?

  1. Responsibilities as they stand for road and rail have shown to be adequate. However, one specific consideration would be to drive more collaboration between interdependent infrastructure managers and agencies. The Government could choose to provide a means to allow these organisations to understand critical priorities and cascading risks between operators in a geographical area, for example river catchment areas including ports, power stations and freight routes. Network Rail could then take this into account when reviewing and updating weather resilience and climate change adaptation plans.
  2. ORR has made these recommendations to Network Rail who have already shown some good examples of partnership work. The Eden Rivers Scheme in Cumbria is an example where Network Rail has worked with a local trust to return the local river to its natural meandering state in the local floodplain. This is instead of a traditional hard engineering flood defence solution. The alternative solution has allowed the local catchment to absorb more floodwater upstream and cost Network Rail only a tenth of what it would have spent for a similar level of risk reduction. This solution also afforded other benefits for biodiversity and the local farming community.
  3. The Leeds Flood Alleviation scheme also provides a good example of the benefits of partnership working. The Environment Agency and Leeds City Council were planning a flood barrier along the River Aire in central Leeds. Network Rail contributed 10% of the cost of this project and, in return, ensured the design protected the railway. This reduced the likelihood of flooding in a given year from 87% to less than 1%. The scheme also planted 300,000 trees and restored moorland upstream.
  4. ORR's view is that more cooperation can take place between the Environment Agency and the infrastructure managers to improve resilience through more cost effective partnership projects.

What is your understanding of the CNI Knowledge Base currently under development by the Government?

  1. ORR understands that the Government is currently developing a CNI Knowledge Base to be the single source of truth for critical national infrastructure across the UK. ORR welcomes any initiative which promotes improved cooperation across resilience organisations and sectors, and increased awareness of the interdependencies between critical national infrastructure sectors. ORR looks forward to the launch of the Knowledge Base later in 2022.

To what extent, if at all, does the Government engage or consult you on the development of the National Security Risk Assessment? a. Do you have sight of the NSRA? b. If not, do you find the National Risk Register a useful tool?

  1. ORR is not formally asked to input into the National Security Risk Assessment or National Risk Register as we do not provide critical services or hold any critical national infrastructure. The DfT leads on critical national infrastructure for both the rail and road networks.

 

  1. However, ORR can raise issues, as they arise, through weekly cross-government security meetings and a monthly security advisors forum. ORR is also able to raise any areas of concern with our security advisor, the security advice team based in the Cabinet Office, the National Cyber Security Centre and the national technical authorities.

Steve Fletcher

17 March 2022