Network Rail has welcomed today’s command paper as a serious and comprehensive contribution to the debate about the future of the railway in this country.
In particular it welcomes the recognition that, whilst significant progress has been made both on safety and punctuality in the last decade, there is no alternative to investing constantly in greater capacity and better connectivity to meet the massive increase in passenger and freight traffic, particularly, but not exclusively, in London, where many routes are at, or approaching capacity. Hence its support for HS2.
Network Rail shares the command paper’s vision that the railway should be part of a transport system that is an engine for economic growth, more environmentally sustainable and improves the quality of life for our communities.
Network Rail agrees that, in light of the improvements in performance and the growth in traffic, fundamental restructuring of the industry is unnecessary. Equally, however, Network Rail remains committed to working with the rest of the industry and government to improve value for money. More can be done to align the incentives of track and train and to provide flexibility for the industry to deliver improved outcomes for rail users in the most efficient way.
That is why Network Rail has:
de-centralised its operations to its routes;
started the process of developing alliances with train operating companies whilst recognising the different circumstances in individual routes;
started to involve suppliers earlier in the delivery of projects and to develop more collaborative working arrangements with them;
started the process of making its investment projects division more of a separate business open to outside competition.
At the same time, as the command paper recognises, Network Rail has committed to deliver efficiency savings of £1.2bn in this control period (CP4 2009-2014) and a further £0.6bn in the next control period (CP5). Network Rail is working with the Rail Delivery Group to identify further savings which the industry as a whole can deliver particularly in CP5 or beyond and to be clear about what needs to change in order to realise these savings.
Network Rail’s chief executive, David Higgins, said:
“Network Rail’s core purpose remains that of delivering value for money to its customers and taxpayers as it strives to continuously improve the railway. That means, amongst other things, acting as system operator seeking the best use of limited user capacity and the fairest possible treatment for all train and freight companies - and doing so in as transparent a way as possible. Hence the changes to our governance also announced today.
“Today’s command paper gives us a solid platform on which to continue to carry out that task as well as to contribute, along with our partners in the Railway Delivery Group, to the debate about how we continue to maximise performance whilst balancing it with our other objectives of increasing capacity, improving journey time and reducing cost. We look forward to the government’s next contribution to that debate in the high level output specification in July of this year.”