Network Rail unveils ‘radical’ CP6 plan with aim to drop delays by 15%

Network Rail has released its much-anticipated Strategic Business Plan for CP6, with plans including a 15% drop in delays across the network and a commitment to hire 50% more women over the five-year period.

The programme covers all of NR’s operations between 2019 and 2024 and focuses heavily on improving safety, both for passengers and staff.

However, in comparison to previous control periods, there is a noticeable lack of new major projects detailed in the plan, with the organisation more heavily focusing on general improvements and completing current schemes.

This is likely because new projects are expected to be dealt with directly by the Treasury as business cases are presented to Network Rail. It is also in line with Chris Grayling’s announcement last year that new investment will include a completely separate funding process for major upgrades.

Mark Carne, outgoing CEO of the organisation, said the plan is a “turning point” in the organisation’s history as it slowly transitions into a “federation of devolved businesses operating within a national framework.”

“This is a radical plan, an ambitious plan,” he said. “It is not without challenge and risk. But with great people, great teams, the right quality of leadership, the right incentives and the determination to see it through, it can deliver the better railway that a better Britain needs.”

Of the £48bn total initially allocated to Network Rail in October, the plan details £47bn of spending split between previously agreed enhancement projects, renewals and operations and maintenance – with the final £1bn saved for some smaller infrastructure projects.

Carne said that both renewals and maintenance/operations would receive around £18.5bn of spending, while the final £10bn would go towards completing projects.

He explained that one of the major changes between CP5 and CP6 would be Network Rail’s approach to renewals, which he said was one of the “failures” of the previous plan.

Renewals are now going to be dealt with through a phased delivery model, meaning there will be contracts sent out over a longer period so as not to “overload the supply chain” early in the process.

The one major project which has been put forward is the upgrade of TransPennine network, already in the pipeline but confirmed as part of the CP6 plan.

In terms of specific targets, Network Rail is aiming to reduce the general risk of accidents to passengers by 10% over this period by implementing new digital safety technologies. It also expects to be able to reduce the risk of accidents on level crossings by 13% and halve time lost to workforce due to injuries by the end of the plan.

The infrastructure owner will also be trying to drive efficiency by decreasing the improvement cost per passenger kilometre by around 10%, building on the 40% total achieved across CP4 and CP5.

It comes alongside commitments to bring in 50% more women to work in the organisation over the five-year period and pledge to implement “gender-balanced recruitment.”

ORR assessment changes

Today’s news was coupled with proposals by the ORR to change the way it will assess efficiency and performance nationally.

Explaining the changes, John Larkinson, director of railway markets and economics, said the regulator supported Network Rail’s changes but needed to “shine a light” on whether the organisation is delivering efficiency.

“A big change in CP6 is that we will be making more comparisons between the eight geographical areas that Network Rail has split its network into,” he explained. “This, in turn, provides a strong reputational incentive for it to become more efficient.”

In addition to these changes, the ORR will also put more focus on assessing the type of work Network Rail is completing and whether specific projects bring value to passengers.

The CP6 plan will be overseen by Mark Carne until the beginning of the control period, but the chief executive is set to step away from his role after that, following four years in the position.

Top image: PA Images

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Alan Robinson   13/02/2018 at 12:36

Eh? ... "improving safety, both for passengers and patients"? So NR is to tender for NHS contracts, then?

Malcolm Dymott   13/02/2018 at 14:01

Disappointing that seems to be little detail about people, other than their diversity and health. The railway industry as a whole is rather short of experienced staff. Network Rail have made a start on addressing this - Westwood is full of apprentices. However a bit surprising I did not spot targets to achieve defined numbers of specialist staff in the plan. I was thinking of roles such as signaling testers, overhead wire experts (designers, installers, maintainers), possession planners, . . . (there are plenty more) . . . all the not very exciting people you need to deliver a railway that works and affordable renewals and upgrades. This is all the more difficult to get right in an organization with a string focus on routes rather than engineering disciplines. Sorry to sound pessimistic but if there is not an adequate base of staff with the right skills, I think we may all be a bit disappointed with the results at the end of "CP6".

Adrian N   13/02/2018 at 16:33

#Alan Robinson - has "patients" been corrected to read "staff"? If so a Freudian slip rather than an NHS tendering strategy!

Sonning Cutting   13/02/2018 at 17:34

Many have been arguing for strengthening of our existing assets to complement the building of HS2, and this appears to be what is planned. The East Coast main-line for one is clearly in need of some TLC , as well as the Brighton Line!

OLE Bob   13/02/2018 at 20:52

 “It is not without challenge and risk. But with great people, great teams, the right quality of leadership, the right incentives and the determination to see it through, it can deliver the better railway that a better Britain needs.” Network Rail have none of these things. We know where this is heading....

Lutz   14/02/2018 at 07:15

Wrong URL? Correct URL: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/who-we-are/publications-resources/strategicbusinessplan/

Noam Bleicher   14/02/2018 at 08:48

Malcolm, increasing diversity will make it easier to recruit in all disciplines, by widening the pool from which recruits are drawn.

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