pounds 1m fine threat to train firms
Dr Reid, in his first major speech on railways since being appointed to the brief, will tell an audience of industry figures at the Railway Forum that he is making the quality of services his top priority.
He is expected to outline penalties the Government will impose on train operators whose passengers suffer poor standards. He will remind them that taxpayers, who subsidise rail services, deserve and must be given better services - a veiled warning that failing companies may lose their franchises.
It is understood that John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, may order rail regulators to intervene more swiftly when trains are repeatedly cancelled or late. One possible sanction is said to include instant fines of at least pounds 1m.
Statistics show a marked fall in standards on the railways for the first full year since privatisation. Last month, the official passenger watchdog attacked the "truly dreadful" performance by some companies.
Figures by the regulatory body, the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising, show punctuality had declined on 48 routes and improved on 16. Reliability decreased on 33 routes and improved on 21, nine staying broadly the same.
Dr Reid will come under pressure from railway executives to detail plans for new legislation. It is believed Mr Prescott has failed to win a promise from Tony Blair that his plans, outlined in the Transport White Paper for a Strategic Rail Authority, would be included in the Queen's Speech in November.
David Morphet, Railway Forum director-general, said: "Uncertainty over follow-up to the White Paper, and particularly over the timescale for the promised legislation, is causing a lot of nervousness in the industry. We are keen to see a Strategic Rail Authority developing a strategic vision for rail."
He warned that delay on crucial issues, such as the process for renewing franchises that expire in 2003, would have a serious impact on orders for new rolling stock.
"Existing franchisees need to be told quickly and clearly what they have to meet in order to secure renewal," he said.
The Railway Forum, which includes about half of the privatised train operators, as well as Railtrack, train builders and railway contractors, starts its annual conference tomorrow.
That's some guestlist! Stunning images show huge dynastic wedding between Ultra-Orthodox Jewish families which attracted 25,000 guests
Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
Video: Woolwich attack - man with bloodied hands and knife addresses camera
Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, the mother-of-two hailed as a hero for confronting Woolwich attackers, thought: 'better me than a child'
- 1 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.