Network Rail promises more chances for firms to win project work Magazine
Network Rail has announced sweeping new reforms to get more companies involved in delivering railway investment projects.
Reforms unveiled by chief executive Mark Carne represent a raft of opportunities for other companies to directly work on Britain’s railway projects and to compete for a slice of this huge market and to potentially deliver further improvements for passengers that otherwise might not happen.
He said 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.”
The reforms include:
- Publishing a regular pipeline of third party project opportunities
- Creating a swathe of third party project champions across the country who will work side-by-side with delivery bodies, investors and funders to ensure their projects are successful
- 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. Safety, of course, will always be central to our ethos but where we can 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 because potential investors will have choices over who delivers projects for them. This will reduce the burden on central government and taxpayers and create new opportunities for passengers and the communities that depend on the railway.
Deputy chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said: “Record numbers of people are choosing to travel by train, and Network Rail is in the midst of a huge programme of renewals and enhancements to the network, alongside working on major schemes such as East-West Rail and HS2. So I welcome these measures, which will help drive innovation and bring new competition and the latest technologies into the industry, to deliver better services for passengers.”
Darren Caplan, chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “We are excited by the opportunities we see to innovate with these reforms. We all know that the industry has to change – these changes mark a welcome, positive, approach from Network Rail which has previously resisted such radical steps.”
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.”