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Network Rail reclassified as a public sector body

Network Rail is to be reclassified as a central government body in the public sector, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced. It means that the company’s net debt, currently £30bn, will appear on the government’s balance sheet from 1 September 2014.

The move, which will apply retroactively from April 2004, and has come about following guidance under the 2010 European System of Accounts (ESA10), is likely to increase public sector net debt by about 2% of GDP.

The ONS said: “ONS has concluded that, under ESA10 rules, Network Rail is a non-market body. Consequently, since the financial indemnity which guarantees Network Rail’s debt is provided by Central Government, Network Rail is a central government controlled, non market body classified as part of the Central Government sector.”

The DfT and Network Rail have published a memorandum of understanding to set out how they will work together to develop this framework.

Network Rail stated: “This reclassification of Network Rail as a central government body is a statistical decision that does not alter the company's structure as a not-for-dividend company, limited by guarantee, with Members rather than shareholders. The business acts and operates today as it did yesterday, and its job of delivering a safe, reliable and improving railway for four million daily users continues.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “I am committed to ensuring that Network Rail maintains the operational flexibility to continue to deliver a safe, punctual rail network and increased capacity for our busy railways and that it is able to attract a high calibre of staff, while still providing value for money and being accountable to Parliament.

“My department will agree appropriate accounting and governance adjustments for Network Rail to ensure it can continue to deliver world class railway infrastructure when the company is reclassified for statistical purposes on 1 September 2014.”

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