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29.04.16

The cost of recommending Network Rail change

The DfT has revealed that the estimated incremental cost of preparing and publishing the long-awaited Shaw Report was £875,919.

The report, which rejected Network Rail privatisation for the ‘foreseeable future’, has been widely welcomed by the industry. In particular, Network Rail’s Mark Carne and Sir Peter Hendy “entirely agree” with Nicola Shaw’s recommendation of getting third party private funding into the railway.

Although the government hasn’t yet replied to the report, the wheels are already in motion for delivering change. The HS1 boss stated that Network Rail should make greater moves towards devolving its routes further, with the introduction and development of a Northern route touted as an option.

During a recent Infrarail panel session, facilitated by RTM, Jo Kaye, director of network strategy and capacity planning at Network Rail, said: “Mark Carne has asked Michael Holden [the former CEO of Directly Operated Railways] to take a look at that proposal, as there is a multiplicity of stakeholders and customers involved in the concept of a Northern route.

“Michael is doing the rounds, on how we can meet those needs. He will be making his recommendations in the next few months.”

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has now confirmed in its business plan that it is already conducting research into how route-based devolution could look, and Nick Elliott, MD of Network Rail’s National Supply Chain, told RTM that as the organisation moves towards devolving local accountabilities to its routes it will attempt to make it much easier for local businesses and SMEs to deal with it going forward.

However, Kaye told us that devolution of Network Rail’s routes should “not be seen as the panacea for solving every problem the industry comes up against”.

The Shaw Report has acted as the start gun for change, but only time will tell whether the short-term investment in the review will deliver the desired benefits, especially as other major Network Rail reports have started to be the subject of criticism.

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