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NR creates northern MD post, but ditches Shaw devolved route idea

Network Rail has announced the creation of a managing director to oversee its northern portfolio as part of widespread reforms to deliver more localism – but the new role stops short of the Shaw report’s recommendation that Network Rail establishes a new northern route.

The infrastructure owner said it had carried out a review of the devolved route idea, but decided that the “very significant” organisational change would incur excessive cost and disruption, ultimately outweighing the benefits.

Instead, Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “We are appointing a ‘railway upgrade tsar for the north’. This new role will ensure a clear focus on future rail expansion, modernisation and investment across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse.

“Building on the record investment in recent years, this person will bring together the needs of passengers, train operators and regional bodies to ensure a truly integrated rail strategy to join up the great cities of the north.”

The new managing director, who will report to the MD for England and Wales, will lead a northern investment organisation, joining up future rail expansion and modernisation across the region.

They will act as a single point of contact for funders and stakeholders, as well as oversee the strategy, planning and delivery of projects across the north where Transport for the North (TfN) is or will be the funder.

Michael Holden, the ex-CEO of Directly Operated Railways, who carried out the review of the proposals, said: “There is no single 'magic bullet' organisational structure that will meet the needs of all stakeholders whilst remaining operationally robust.

“The proposals being taken forward now represent the best way of addressing the clearly articulated needs of northern stakeholders for a more joined up approach to the development of the railway network across the north.”

David Brown, chief executive of TfN, added that creating the new role was “a pioneering move” that would “provide both focus and empowerment”.

Other new leadership roles

As well as the new MD post, Network Rail said it will create a new chief operating officer (COO) post in each of its route businesses, who will exclusively focus on ensuring the safety, reliability and punctuality of the network on a day-to-day basis.

Under the COO, maintenance and operations will be split into their own departments, each with its own head.

Each route will also have a new lead for business development who will seek to attract private capital and third-party funding for improvements in their respective region.

Finally, project sponsorship in the routes will be strengthened with a route project sponsorship director, who will work to facilitate more robust specification and management of enhancements.

Network Rail said it expects that all these changes will be implemented in spring 2017.

In his introduction to Network Rail’s 2015-16 annual report, Carne said the infrastructure owner will introduce more route devolution measures, such as separate performance scorecards and regulation for each route. However, he said the infrastructure owner would still retain “a national framework and standards”.

Rail North and the Urban Transport Group have both recently said that more rail devolution will help improve services.

(Image c. Network Rail)

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Stephen Waring   07/10/2016 at 16:06

So what price devolution?

Lutz   07/10/2016 at 18:46

So the Shaw report was by and large a wasted effort, not to mention teh money and time. I could see that coming. How about taking major infrastructure projects spanning more than four years say, away from NR and have them managed by professional program management consultancies, contracting to NR and other organisations for the various services as and when required? That way NR could double-down on improving efficiencies in cyclic activities such as maintenance, service improvement, and operations.

Dr.Peter Long   09/10/2016 at 18:36

it is most unwise of networkrail to ignore the well-evidenced proposals of Nicola shaw---how disappointing!

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