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RDG communications protocol

last updated April 2017

Rail plays an ever more crucial role in Britain, both for customers and the economy as a whole.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) brings together all passenger and freight operators with Network Rail and HS2, providing services and support to enable them to succeed by delivering better services for their customers. This ultimately benefits taxpayers and the economy.

We organise our activity into four core portfolios: customer experience; today’s railway; industry reform; and tomorrow’s railway. We support these portfolios through communications and engagement activity, and improvements in how the RDG is organised and operates. We also provide support and give a voice to freight and train operators, as well as delivering important national ticketing, information and reservation services for passengers and staff on behalf of member companies.

RDG communications and engagement activity aims to: demonstrate the value of rail and the clear journey underway to deliver positive change that will transform the experience for customers, secure the future of our people and maximise the benefit for Britain’s communities and economy; increase understanding of the progress being made by industry to the benefit of passengers; and build public and third party support for the continued investment in rail. Underpinning that activity is data and analysis of data on rail's financial and operational performance, and its contribution to the UK economy, produced annually and published on the RDG website.

Background

ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) was set up after privatisation in 1993, to preserve and enhance the benefits for passengers of Britain’s national rail network. In 2011, it was joined by RDG to provide policy formulation and communications on behalf of the entire industry. In October 2016, the single name of Rail Delivery Group was adopted to describe the organisation as a whole and all our activities.

Following reclassification of its debt in 2014, Network Rail became an arm's length public body, so the RDG now represents both the public and private sectors in rail. Half of the RDG's direct funding comes from Network Rail, the remainder from the transport groups.

Principles

  1. Rail is an important public service, receiving significant government funding, and regularly in the public eye. RDG has a crucial role to play in raising public awareness of one of the biggest modernisation programmes in rail's history and explaining how its members are working in partnership with government, suppliers and other stakeholders to deliver these significant improvements.
  2. RDG will at all times demonstrate propriety in communications activity, ensuring it is objective in both tone and content. In purdah, it will take particular caution not to communicate in ways which could give rise to criticism of party political bias or that public resources are being used for party political purposes.
  3. Where there is potential for issues to become politically complex, the RDG executive team will consider very carefully in consultation with members, in particular Network Rail, the tone and presentation of its communications to ensure that its communications are presented in a measured and factual way, giving consideration as to whether RDG responds explicitly as RDG speaking on behalf of all its members or of train operators only.
  4. RDG communications will be both proactive, putting objective information about the railway into the public domain, and reactive, responding contemporaneously and appropriately to important issues of the day and requests for information and comment from journalists, Parliamentarians and government officials.
  5. For the avoidance of doubt, this would not prevent the RDG from responding to public consultations on the railway by political parties nor representing the views of the industry to political parties on important matters.
  6. Whenever possible, RDG will express a single voice for its members. But where necessary, it will communicate the range of views from different groups of members.
  7. RDG will regularly review our activity with Network Rail, its other member transport groups and the Department for Transport.
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