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The ONS classifies Wales and Borders rail operator now running under an emergency measures agreement

After reviewing its classification against international statistical guidelines, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has concluded that the Operator and Development Partner (the ODP) and the train operating company (the OpCo, also known as Transport for Wales Rail Services) responsible for the Wales and Borders rail network should be classified to the public sector for statistical purposes, after entering into an Emergency Measures Agreement (EMA) with the Welsh Government.

Under the EMA, normal franchise mechanisms have been amended, transferring almost all revenue and cost risk to the government. In addition, the ODP and the OpCo have had restrictions placed on their ability to borrow money and cannot make significant changes to fares or staffing levels without government agreement. This has led the ONS to conclude that public sector control exists over the ODP and the OpCo, in accordance with international statistical guidelines, and that they should be classified as public non-financial corporations with effect from 3 May 2020, the day the EMA came into force. As the EMA is temporary in nature, the ONS may review the classification status of the ODP and the OpCo again in the future if the EMA expires, or if it has been judged that the EMA has been amended materially.

Any organisation’s classification status is a statistical matter that does not have any direct implications in areas such as ownership, legal status, or management structure. Therefore, following a classification, the only direct change is how an organisation is accounted for in ONS official statistics. Accordingly, the ODP and the OpCo’s net borrowing and debt will be included in the relevant ONS public sector finances series and their workforces will be included in the public sector employment totals as soon as is possible.

Notes to Editors

  1. The letter sent from the ONS to the Welsh Government giving further details of the classification decision is available here.
  2. The companies affected by this classification decision are: Keolis Amey Wales Cymru Ltd (the ODP); and Keolis Amey Operations Ltd (the OpCo, also known as Transport for Wales Rail Services).

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