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 most needed.
Network Rail will be aiming to reduce costs and deliver better value for money, so that the savings can be reinvested into further enhancing the railway in the Thames Valley.
Network Rail wants to boost rail capacity on the Western route and has proposed a number of large investments from 2014 to 2019 including station, service and infrastructure improvements.
This includes the electrification of the Great Western main line between London, Oxford, Newbury and Bristol to improve journey times. A major resignalling programme has also been proposed for the Bristol, Swindon and Oxford areas to make the railway more reliable. There are also plans to increase passenger and freight capacity between the south coast, Oxford and the north in what is known as the Oxford Corridor.
The business case for this comprehensive strategy is currently being put together by the route team, with contributions from key local leaders, for further discussion with the Department for Transport.
Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail Western’s new route managing director, said: “The next decade is an exciting and challenging period with passengers on the Western route set to see great improvements. We have a big task ahead and devolution is a step in the right direction to enable us to achieve our performance and efficiency targets, while seizing the opportunities to drive local economy with these major investments.
“Infrastructure investment is a key economic driver and the rail industry is a growth sector that can be tapped into. Through devolution, we will become leaner, more responsive and this means we will be better placed to work with local stakeholders, including city councils and local enterprise partnerships, to share our expertise to explore growth opportunities and help local economy thrive.”
By the end of 2014, Network Rail’s aim is to achieve at least 93% in punctuality, by tackling cable theft and implementing a robust 7-day railway strategy to minimise disruption during major improvement work.
Network Rail will spend around £400m on the Western route by 2013 to operate, renew and enhance the 995 miles of railway. This is on top of the £4.5bn investment secured to transform the Great Western main line into the most advanced intercity urban railway by 2017 – this investment includes re-signalling, electrification and Reading re-modelling.
Network Rail Western’s workforce is made up of 1,700 people. Mr Hallgate previously managed the Anglia route and more recently, was driving the national resignalling and electrification strategy.
Also in Europe today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to London.
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