Railway safety and crime

12.02.19

‘Radical change is needed’: Network Rail reveals major reorganisation centred around devolution

Network Rail has announced a major structural reorganisation with devolution and regional responsibility at the front of its new operation model in recognition that “radical change is needed.”

The new operating model will be formed of 13 routes and supported by five Network Rail regions, each with a managing director and smaller teams at the centre.

Network Rail say the reorganisation will ensure it is more aligned to passengers and train operators, enabling a more cohesive and joined-up railway through devolution, embedding customer service and bringing track and train closer together.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, said the “need for radical change is clear” as “performance is not good enough, and my comprehensive discussions with partners, passengers, and politicians up and down the country has made clear to me the things we do well and the areas where we need to improve.”

“Devolution has to go much deeper to enable us to get much closer to our partners and customers and be in a much better place to put passengers first and deliver for business too.

“The changes I’m announcing today are designed to do just that.”

As well as 13 routes increased from the current eight, each will gain responsibility for their own operations, maintenance, and renewals, as well as their day to day delivery of train performance.

The five supporting Network Rail regions will be Scotland, Wales & Western, London North West, Southern, and Eastern.

The arm’s length government body said a number of previously centralised services and functions will also be devolved to route level, enabling regions to be more responsive to customers and passengers.

The first phase of the plans is the formation of the new regions which will take place in June this year following a consultation, and the whole programme of change is due to be completed by 2020.

Network Rail said: “It will push devolution further than ever before, making routes more responsive to local needs, cutting through red tape and bureaucracy.

“Against this backdrop of transformation, the priority remains to deliver a safe and reliable railway.”

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