An independent Railway Pensions Commission has been set up by the rail unions and employers to review the current railways pensions scheme.
The commission will be asked to consider whether any alternative means of long-term pension provision might be available that would be fair and affordable for both employees and employers.
It will be chaired by former Turner pensions commissioner Jeannie Drake.
She said: “The cost of pensions provision is rising and we need to find imaginative, affordable, equitable and sustainable solutions to maintain long-term pension provision.”
Also on the commission will be Bryn Davies, an independent actuary, nominated by the trade unions involved – Aslef , RMT, TSSA and the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions. Peter Thompson, a consulting actuary, was nominated by the employers, including Network Rail and the train operating companies.
The commission will gather evidence from all interested parties and aims to complete its report next summer. An interim report is expected early in 2007.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “The unions and employers in the rail industry have agreed a sensible and constructive approach to a complex problem. This is a top class team, I’m sure they will do a top class job.”
John Armitt, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “This commission provides a real opportunity to make progress in tackling the issues involved in providing affordable, good value pensions across the rail industry.
“We look forward to considering the commission’s findings, and to working with the trade unions, as we seek ways of securing long-term pension provision for people in the industry.”