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Senior Economist


Birmingham, West Midlands : Bristol, South West : Glasgow, Scotland : London : Manchester, North West : York, Yorkshire and the Humber


About the job

Job description

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is the independent safety and economic regulator for Britain's railways and the independent monitor of Highways England. We are here to ensure the network operates safely and reliably and provides value for taxpayers and customers.

The rail network plays a vital economic and social role. This is a unique opportunity for you to improve how the railways work and to make a positive difference to the experience of over 1.7 billion passengers and to the movement of around 80 million tonnes of goods and raw materials each year.

This is an exciting and diverse role that will offer you the opportunity to develop policy, lead challenging analytical work and design and implement incentive mechanisms, working closely with engineering, legal, regulation and competition experts as well as governments and the wider rail industry. It is also an exciting and challenging time to join the rail industry, as we seek to adapt our regulation to support continued growth of the network and help meet the many potential changes on the horizon.

About the role:

You will join the ORR’s Economics team in the Railway Markets and Economics (RME) directorate. We works on a diverse range of economic and policy issues, much of which directed at the economic regulation of Britain’s national rail network.

Your work will include:

- the design of the price mechanisms that help incentivise operators and infrastructure owners to make the most effective use of capacity and take the right long-term decisions;
- the use of sophisticated choice models and a wealth of empirical evidence to predict the behaviour of users and to determine the value created by new train service proposals; and
- the application of econometric analysis to understand the key factors that drive infrastructure costs, efficiency and quality of service; and using this information to help ensure that monopoly infrastructure managers, such as Network Rail, are as efficient as they can be.

You will be expected to take a leading role in the first of these areas, and make a significant contribution to the other two, working closely with the Head of Analysis and Rail Economics.

You will also have the opportunity to get involved with the work of the rest of the Economics team, which focuses on developing the frameworks within which we regulate Network Rail and other infrastructure managers. This includes adapting how we regulate the performance of Network Rail’s local business units and the national System Operator function, and developing regulatory frameworks for parts of the network owned by other parties, such as High Speed 2.

Whilst there is scope for the successful candidate to shape their role given their skills, experience and areas of interest, Senior Economists in this team can be expected to take on the following tasks:

• lead on the design and reform of individual track access charges and incentive mechanisms; over the coming year, this could include charges that vary by time of day; incentives towards more reliable services; and mechanisms adapted to vertically integrated railways and to private sector investment on the rail network;
• use econometric analysis to improve our understanding of rail industry cost and quality drivers, and to compare performance across different regions, infrastructure managers and operators;
• lead the economic analysis of new rail service proposals, with a focus on predicting overall market size and passengers’ choice between competing services;
• carry out ex-post policy impact evaluation, for example, to understand the effect of open access entry on passenger demand, fares, revenue and the behaviour of incumbents; or to assess the effect of new charges and incentives;
• represent the ORR on technical working groups, such as the Passenger Demand Forecasting Council or the International Regulators Group; and
• review economic evidence and practice from different regulated infrastructure sectors in the UK and internationally.

Staff at this level are also generally expected to:

• commission and oversee consultancy projects;
• produce written reports, briefing notes, committee papers and blog posts;
• present analysis, proposals and recommendations to internal and external audiences; and
• contribute to team development through line management, knowledge dissemination and recruitment.

This description of the job may be subject to review, and is to provide you with guidelines within which you would work. Other duties appropriate to the grade may be assigned from time to time.

About you:

This post would ideally suit someone with experience of applied economics and policy, in an infrastructure, regulatory, policy and/or government context, who can bring a mixture of analytical, research, communication, policy development and project management skills. Knowledge and experience of transport or regulatory economics is desirable but not essential.

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate who will enjoy working in a small and dynamic team, within a multi-disciplinary organisation, and who is capable of working simultaneously on a range of issues, balancing priorities as necessary.

The ability to write and present clearly and persuasively is important, as is the ability to work independently, manage projects effectively and interact with a wide range of stakeholders.


• Experience working as an applied economist, ideally in an infrastructure, regulatory, policy and/or government context.

The following experiences are each desirable but are not essential for the role:

• knowledge of transport economics;
• knowledge of regulatory and/or competition economics in regulated sectors;
• a working knowledge of econometric estimation software;
• experience working in the transport sector;
• experience working in, or with, government;
• experience working for an economic regulator; and
• experience of managing people.

Please click APPLY to see the Candidate Information Pack for further details on the role and selection process.