Network Rail’s project director for Crossrail, Robbie Burns, also urged business leaders to argue the case for major investment in transport schemes as they fight for funds against other departments.
Speaking at the annual London Rail conference this morning, Burns said schemes like Thameslink and Crossrail, “pay for themselves time and time again.”
He said: “We need our voice and the voice of those who rely on rail to be heard by the decision makers” and “to be convincing, it is vital that rail enlists business, the wealth generators of UK plc, to speak up on behalf of rail.”
Burns welcomed positive noises about the biggest capital projects in recent weeks and the confirmation in last week’s Budget that Infrastructure UK would oversee a review of costs across the construction sector.
He said this will help Network Rail in its goal of “operating and renewing the railway with costs and practices that bear comparison with any in the world” by 2014 and in building on the company’s strong track record that has saved £6.5bn or 27% over the past five years and is targeting a further 24% of savings by 2014.
Burns said: “Network Rail was born with the challenge of cuttings costs whilst improving its service. We’ve been doing it since 2003 and over the last five years we’ve cut £6.5bn from the cost of running the national rail network.
“If we are to create a healthy and sustainable future for rail we have a duty to drive out cost and waste and avoid spending on what isn’t needed or doesn’t deliver value.
“So becoming leaner and more efficient is not just important, it is an imperative. But let me be clear – we need to push very hard on cutting costs, but not cutting corners.”