Network Rail, improving the railway in Northamptonshire

The change, part of a national programme of devolution by Network Rail, will give the team greater decision-making authority, allowing them to act more quickly in the best interests of rail users and target investment where it is needed most.

The Midland main line serves a number of towns and cities between London St Pancras and the East Midlands including Wellingborough, Kettering and Corby.

Route managing director Martin Frobisher said: “This is a significant change for the way we manage the railway. Instead of the various teams in charge of signalling, tracks and electrical supplies each reporting to different managers, I will have a team of experts working together to deliver the very best for this route.

“We are already delivering record levels of performance and safety while 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 covering the day-to-day operation of the network, essential maintenance and asset management as well as having power to direct what is spent and where to renew and enhance the railway.

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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, this 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 teams will work with passenger and freight operators to develop route plans which will deliver on local priorities.

Martin continues: “We will work to further strengthen and build upon our partnerships with our customers 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.