South East disruption due to ice on 12 February 2016: Investigation

Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association made this Freedom of Information request to Network Rail Limited

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

Dear Network Rail Limited,

Please supply electronic copies of all investigation, inquiry or other reports into:

(1) the disruption to Southeastern and Southern services on 12 February 2016.

(2) the operation of de-icing trains and equipment on 11 and 12 February 2016 on lines used by Southeastern and Southern.

(3) engineering work on lines used by Southeastern and Southern on 11 and 12 February 2016.

Please also supply details of any investigations or inquiries still under way, who is conducting each such inquiry, and the expected date on which the report of each such inquiry will be complete. (It would be helpful if you could undertake to supply copies of these reports when complete to save another FOI request later.)

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Stott
Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

FOI, Network Rail Limited

Reference number: FOI2016/00188

Dear Mr Stott

Information request

Your correspondence was received by Network Rail on 17th February 2016. I can confirm that your request is being processed under the terms of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). I will endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible and in any event by 16th March 2016.

On occasion we may need to consult with third parties about requests, in line with the recommendations in the Code of Practice issued by the then Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.

If you have any queries please contact me.

Please remember to quote your reference number in all future communications.

Yours sincerely

Emma Wolstenholme
Information Officer

Freedom of Information Team
The Quadrant
Elder Gate
Milton Keynes
MK9 1EN

Telephone: 01908 782405
Email: [Network Rail request email]
Web: www.networkrail.co.uk/foi

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Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

Dear FOI,

Please explain why this is being treated under the Environmental Impact Regulations rather than the Freedom of Information Act.

We reserve the right to treat this as submitted under the Freedom of Information Act on the original date for the purposes of time limits and for the disclosure requirements.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Stott
Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

FOI, Network Rail Limited

Dear Mr Stott

I apologise for any confusion: the Environmental Information (not Impact) Regulations 2004 are in most aspects very similar to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Information Commissioner (who is the independent regulator for both) advises public authorities that "The Regulations provide a separate right of access to information about the environment. All other types of information are covered by the Freedom of Information Act. When you receive a request, you need to consider whether the information that has been asked for is environmental or not, and then deal with the request under the appropriate legislation".

Upon receipt of your request, therefore, we considered whether the information requested was environmental or not. The definition in the Regulations of "environmental information" is very broad (it can be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/...). It includes "...activities affecting or likely to affect...the state of the elements of the environment, such as...land, landscape...[and] factors, such as...energy, noise... likely to affect the elements of the environment". It is our view that information about disruption to train services, the operation of de-icing trains and equipment and engineering works constitutes environmental information according to that definition.

I can reassure you though that the Regulations, like the FOI Act, require us to respond within twenty working days (unless there are grounds for an extension), and that the "disclosure requirements" (to use your term) are broadly the same.

Detailed advice on the Regulations can be found at the Information Commissioner's website at: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...

I hope this assists, but please do contact me if you have any queries.

Yours sincerely
Jon Baines
Freedom of Information Manager – Request Handling
Transparency, Ethics & Data Protection

See our FOI page at networkrail.co.uk/foi

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Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

Dear FOI,

Thanks for this quick reply.

We note your view that this request is more within the scope of the Environmental Impact Regulations. Seen from here this is stretching the definition (the request is about what you did as a result of the icing, not about what caused the icing). We are content for you to proceed as you suggest, although obviously without prejudice to our right to require you to consider this under the Freedom of Information Act at a later date if needed.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Stott
Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

J Taylor left an annotation ()

There seems to be no difference between what the requester wants and the authority's response.

The requester says:" the request is about what you did as a result of the icing, not about what caused the icing"

and the authority says: "It is our view that information about disruption to train services, the operation of de-icing trains and equipment and engineering works constitutes environmental information according to that definition."

Perhaps it would help if the requester had paid more attention to the explanation provided.

Incidentally, there is no provision in the FOI Act or the Environmental Information Regulations which give the requester the right to insist that the request should be considered under one particular piece of legislation.

FOI, Network Rail Limited

4 Attachments

Reference number: FOI2016/00188

 

Dear Mr Stott

 

Please find attached our response to your Environmental Information
Regulations request.

 

If you have any queries please contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Emma Wolstenholme

Information Officer

 

Freedom of Information Team

The Quadrant

Elder Gate

Milton Keynes

MK9 1EN

 

Telephone: 01908 782405

Email: [1][Network Rail request email]

Web: [2]http://www.networkrail.co.uk/foi/

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Network Rail request email]
2. http://www.networkrail.co.uk/foi/

Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

Dear Emma,

Many thanks for your letter and for the partial response to my request.

It is disappointing that Network Rail cannot undertake to make the results of the Significant Performance Incident Review on 2 March available when ready, and that this will require a new FOI request. To save both of us unnecessary work perhaps you could indicate please when it is expected that the results of the review on 2 March will be documented so that I can submit a further request at a time when it is likely that you will be able to respond to the request?

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Stott
Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

FOI, Network Rail Limited

Dear Mr Stott,

Thank you for your query.

I have consulted further within our organisation and understand that the Significant Performance Incident Review is likely to be completed around the end of April/beginning of May should you wish to make a new request for this information at that point in time.

Please note that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance clearly states that a request for recorded information is to be taken as a request for information which the public authority holds at the time of the request. This is because in some cases, such as in this case, at the time of the request the information may not be held by the public authority. We are unable to undertake to supply documents or consider supplying documents on specific subjects “as and when” they become available (there are a number of reasons for this: it would be logistically difficult to make such commitments, particularly in light of the thousands of requests for information we receive; circumstances surrounding the release of information and whether exemptions are likely to apply to it change over time, what might be exempt from disclosure one day may be appropriate to disclose the next and vice versa).

I hope this explanation clarifies the situation.

Yours sincerely


Emma Wolstenholme

Information Officer

Freedom of Information Team

The Quadrant

Elder Gate

Milton Keynes

MK9 1EN

Telephone: 01908 782405

Email: [1][Network Rail request email]

Web: [2]http://www.networkrail.co.uk/foi/

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Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association

Dear Emma,

Many thanks for the quick reply. I will submit a further FOI request early in May.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Stott
Secretary, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association