The day-to-day running of Britain’s railway infrastructure has been devolved to ten strategic routes as part of Network Rail’s plans to cut the cost of running Britain’s railway and work more effectively with passenger and freight operators.
Each route will have its own management team to operate, maintain and renew the infrastructure. They will be separate business units within Network Rail and will have their own accounts, allowing greater benchmarking of financial performance and efficiency between the routes, as best practice is shared across the business.
David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive said: “Network Rail is committed to building not just a bigger and better railway but a better value railway too. Devolution marks a significant change, both in terms of the way we organise ourselves as a company and the service we offer our customers. Empowering route teams means quicker and more responsive decision-making and will help us meet our central goal of putting the customer first.”
Tim O’Toole, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Network Rail’s move to push decision making to a local level and work more collaboratively with train operators is a crucial step in delivering a better value railway for farepayers and taxpayers alike. However, further industry reform particularly to provide greater flexibility and closer aligned incentives between Network Rail and train operating companies will be required to deliver a more efficient and responsive railway that meets the needs of passengers.”
Each route managing director is now fully accountable for the route businesses under their control as part of a new network operations function, which includes all maintenance, operations, customer services and local asset management. Route teams will have the power to target investment more efficiently and where it is most needed, with priorities determined in collaboration with train operators as well as third parties such as local authorities.
Robin Gisby, Network Rail managing director, network operations, said: “Devolution is now possible because of the gains we have made in recent years – improved punctuality, the most passengers carried for seven decades, record levels of passenger satisfaction and a safe railway, too. But we can and must do more. By devolving power away from the centre, each route will be able to find its own way of working with its customers. There will be no one-size-fits-all. What is certain is that we will work together to deliver the best possible railway for local passengers and businesses.”