The Government's rail shake-up has failed to deal with one of the industry's biggest problems, warned union leader Bob Crow on 15 July 2004.

"There are welcome steps like the abolition of the Strategic Rail Authority, devolution to Wales, Scotland and London and the transfer of some
operational responsibilities to Network Rail," said Mr Crow, general secretary of the RMT union.

"However the review was designed to end the fragmentation of the railway network that resulted from the disastrous Tory privatisation.

"The review has not done so. We will still have 10 or more train operating companies, NR, the franchising body, the Office of Rail Regulation, six track renewal
companies, 200 contractors and three rolling stock companies.

"At the end of the review we will continue to have a patchwork of competing interests, with private profits soaking up billions of taxpayers money.

"RMT fundamentally disagrees with the proposal to transfer responsibility for passenger safety to the ORR and away from HSE because of the economic
conflicts of interest involved.

"There will also be the fragmentation of responsibility for safety since HSE will still be responsible for rail
workers safety.

"At the end of the day we will never get a proper railway network in Britain until the railways are re-nationalised. RMT will continue to campaign for

Paul Noon, general secretary of the Prospect union who represents staff in the HSE's Railway Inspectorate,  said: "If safety regulation becomes part of the body that makes decisions about funding, or economic regulation, there is a real risk safety will be compromised."

He said the switching of safety responsibility flew in the face of recommendations made by Lord Cullen after the public inquiry into the Paddington rail crash.

"The safety regulator should be visibly independent from the rail industry and the economic regulator, particularly because of the large amount of public money involved. Research shows that HSE remains the most trusted by the public of all the regulators."

Under the White Paper proposals, the Government will abolish the SRA and give itself, via the DfT, responsibility for setting the strategy for the
railways and the levels of public expenditure

The Office of Rail Regulation will ensure the Government "pays the correct price for what it wants".

Network Rail will be given clear responsibility for operating the network and for its performance, setting timetables and taking charge when incidents on the network threaten delay.

Track and train companies "will work more closely together". In time the number of franchises will be reduced and aligned more closely with Network
Rail's regional structure. There will be greater clarity of roles and incentives will be aligned.

There will be an increased role for the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly, the London Mayor, and the passenger transport executives
which will be given increased flexibility over passenger services and where appropriate, infrastructure.

The Office of Rail Regulation will cover safety, performance and cost.

Safety regulation will transfer from the Health & Safety Executive to the Office of Rail Regulation but will remain "completely independent of
Government and the industry".

Freight operators will be given "greater certainty
about their rights" on the national network, and a group of key routes will be identified on which freight will enjoy and pay for more assured rights of

A number of these changes - the closure of the SRA, the transfer of safety regulation from HSE, and devolution - will require new laws.

A new transport agency for Scotland is likely to be set up next year, and will be responsible for exercising the new powers.

Dundee MP Iain Luke said transfer of power to the Scottish Executive should be accompanied by sufficient cash to allow it to upgrade the line north of

But Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said there were many pressures on funding for railways.

He added: "While there will be improvement obviously choices have to be made as to what can done and when. People have to be realistic about that."