Network Rail loses sole control of track maintenance

Aaron Morby 5 years ago
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The Government has started to strip full control of rail maintenance from Network Rail to hand it to railway operators.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling today said he wanted the publicly-owned Network Rail to share responsibility for running the tracks with private train operators.

Under plans announced today track maintenance will also now be undertaken by operators like Virgin and Southern.

He also wants a new East-West rail line between Oxford and Cambridge to be completely outside the control of Network Rail.

He believes the plan will incentivise the private operators, which rely on the tracks being in operation, to complete the repairs more quickly than Network Rail, thereby decreasing disruption.

Grayling said: “In order for all those involved to be incentivised to deliver the best possible service for the passenger, I expect the new franchises – starting with South Eastern and East Midlands – to have integrated operating teams between train services and infrastructure.

The franchises are due to be awarded in 2018.

He added: “I will also be inviting Transport for London to be more closely involved in developing the next South Eastern franchise, through seconding a TfL representative to the franchise specification team.

We will continue to develop the model for greater alignment of track and train as further franchises are renewed – including the option of joint ventures.”

Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail said: “We strongly welcome these plans to bring more joined up working within the industry. We have already devolved Network Rail into route-based businesses closer to customers, and the proposals announced today will build on the alliances we have created between these route businesses and train operators.

“We also strongly believe there should be better alignment of incentives between train companies and Network Rail. That is why we now align the performance incentives for all of Network Rail’s 35,000 staff, around targets agreed jointly with train operators. But more needs to be done across the industry.”

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