On Monday 14 November, full control of the rail network in the East Midlands will be devolved from London to Derby, with a new route managing director and his team taking on responsibility for hundreds of miles of railway connecting the region’s towns and cities.
The change, part of a national programme of devolution by Network Rail, will give the team in Derby greater decision-making authority, allowing them to act more quickly in the best interests of rail users in the East Midlands and target investment where it is needed most.
Martin Frobisher takes up the role as East Midlands route managing director on Monday, having previously held the role of route director. “This is a significant change for the way we manage the railway,” he explains. “Instead of the various teams in charge of signalling, tracks, electrical supplies etc each reporting to different managers in London, I will have a team of local experts working together to deliver the very best for the East Midlands.
“We are already delivering record levels of performance and safety whilst running more trains than ever before. Devolving responsibility to the local route team gives us the chance to build on that success as we can be more responsive to the big issues affecting the train companies and their passengers.”
Martin will be responsible for all aspects of the rail infrastructure in the East Midlands covering the day-to-day operation of the network, essential maintenance and asset management as well as having the power to direct what is spent and where to renew and enhance the railway.
Devolution is a central part of Network Rail’s plans to deliver continued efficiency savings, with a target to cut the cost of running Britain’s railway by more than £5bn between 2009 and 2014. From Monday, the East Midlands route will become a separate business unit within Network Rail with its own set of accounts. This will allow greater benchmarking of financial performance and efficiency between the routes as best practice is shared across the business.
The changes are in line with the recommendations of the McNulty report*, published in May, which said savings of up to £1bn a year could be made by continued closer working between Network Rail and the train companies. The newly devolved route team will work with passenger and freight operators to develop a route plan which will deliver on local priorities.
Martin continues: “We will work to further strengthen and build upon our partnerships with our customers in the East Midlands and will build on the strong local relationships which already exist in this area. The newly devolved route will become much more responsive to the needs of our customers.
“Devolution is only possible because of the gains we have made in recent years – record punctuality, the most passengers carried for seven decades, record levels of passenger satisfaction and a safe railway, too.”
Network Rail’s newly devolved structure will see the ten route teams supported by a slimmer, more strategic central organisation. This will enable the routes to continue to benefit from Network Rail’s economies of scale and maintain clear national standards to support safety and performance. A new national centre in Milton Keynes, which opens in summer 2012, will provide state-of-the-art facilities for more than 3,000 people, bringing together asset management, logistics, operational planning, information management and other national functions from all over Britain to support the route teams and their customers.