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Network Rail announces competition reforms

News   •   Aug 04, 2017 07:42 BST

Responsible for over 20% of Britain’s infrastructure-spend, Network Rail is Britain’s biggest builder.

Investing some £130M in our railways every week, the Company has over 15,000 live projects on its books, designed to deliver improvements for the four and a half million people who use it every day.

Chief Executive, Mark Carne, has announced reforms that will open up competition and allow other companies to become involved in railway investment projects, potentially delivering further improvements for passengers that otherwise might not happen.

Mr Carne said: "A growing railway drives the economy, jobs and housing and by welcoming open competition into the core of our business we will increase the pace of innovation, creativity and efficiency and could deliver even more improvements to our railway and for the people that use and rely on it every day.

“I am determined to create an environment where innovative third party companies can compete for and directly deliver railway projects. These reforms mark the next stage of Network Rail's transformation having already decentralised into nine devolved individual businesses."

Some of the reforms announced today include:

  • Publishing a regular pipeline of third party project opportunities
  • Creating third party project champions across the country who will work side-by-side with delivery bodies, investors and funders
  • Creating a clear service level agreement for third parties so they have clarity and reassurance regarding Network Rail’s legal obligations
  • Introducing flexibility to railway standards, to encourage innovation and reduce costs without compromising our solid safety record, we will explore how we can be more flexible
  • Launching a rewards scheme where money saved from introducing a new idea or innovation is shared between Network Rail and the company or individual

These reforms will also unlock new sources of funding, with potential investors having a choice over who delivers projects for them, thus reducing the burden on central government and taxpayers.

Mr Carne continued: "I am also determined to find ways for the private sector to directly invest in railway projects. As a government owned business, this has some challenges, but by unlocking private finance we can potentially deliver railway improvements that would otherwise not be possible."

One of the first examples of a privately financed innovative railway projects is the two-year deal with Resonate, the British signalling and train control specialists.

Under the deal, Resonate will introduce its new, digital traffic management system into the signalling and control systems for the main lines out of London Paddington. Resonate will bear the cost, but will reap the savings from reducing delays. Resonate anticipates that the system could reduce delays by up to 15%.

Network Rail commissioned the Hansford review in December 2016 to investigate how to encourage competition into railway projects and attract more private sector involvement to fund and finance Britain's railway projects.

The review has now been published and these reforms reflect on the advice given in breaking down the actual and perceived barriers identified by Hansford.

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