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NR competition chair issues call for evidence on private investment

The chair of Network Rail’s (NR’s) new independent review into barriers preventing “alternative project delivery” models and private sector investment on Britain’s rail network has issued a call for evidence to the industry.

Professor Peter Hansford, who has been tasked with leading the review into the barriers “preventing and discouraging” third parties from investing in the railways, said he wants all interested parties to make their submissions by the end of January.

NR’s CEO Mark Carne launched the independent review in November, with the final report due in spring 2017.

707 mark carne

The review was announced just days before the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, revealed plans for privatising the new East West Rail route between Oxford and Cambridge. He later admitted that the DfT had not carried out a thorough evaluation of the time and cost benefits of the new initiative.

However, both NR and the DfT have hailed the new ways of working as a progression of the Shaw report’s recommendations from earlier in the year, which called for the infrastructure owner to move towards greater devolution of its routes and explore private sector investment options.

Throughout the year, both Carne and NR’s outspoken chair, Sir Peter Hendy, have been calling for increased private investment, with both highlighting that the infrastructure owner is increasingly turning into a “public sector body that acts like a private business”, but lamented the barriers that prevented it from working with innovative new suppliers.

To ensure the independence of the Hansford Review, secretariat services will be provided by the Nichols Group. To make submissions to the review, all interested parties must submit initial evidence by Tuesday 31 January. Submissions can be made via [email protected].

As well as the call for evidence, Prof Hanford also announced a panel of six industry leaders to support his work. These include:

  • Alistair Gordon – chief executive officer, Keolis
  • Andy Milner – chief executive officer, Amey
  • John Smith – managing director, GB Railfreight
  • Matthew Symes – partner, Concerto
  • Mike Gerrard – independent expert
  • Zara Lamont – performance improvement director, Carillion 

“I am pleased to announce the composition of the panel that will support and advise me in my independent review,” said Prof Hansford.

Professor Peter Hansford crop 636167069957664575

“I am confident that their breadth of experience will assist me in reaching a balanced view of the issues relating to third party investment and delivery from all relevant parts of the industry. I very much look forward to working with them.”

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J Mistry   23/12/2016 at 11:59

From personal experience the biggest barriers seem to come from gatekeepers of projects, namely the project engineers and Route Asset Managers. These people have inordinate power over the network and assets and only look after their own interests rather then the interests of the end customer. In addition Network Rail's own complicated and sometimes unnecessary processes which sometimes are not fully understood by their own staff cause problems for third party investors. The differences in delivering projects to GRIP and RIBA are considerable which GRIP being more of a paperwork exercise before each stagegate can completed and the project moved on. This is not the case under RIBA which is much more flexible.

Lutz   24/12/2016 at 01:58

Until NR is moved back into the private sector, how can any business have confidence of a level playing field; there will always be a risk so long as there is state meddling in UK rail.

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