Network Rail has announced sweeping changes to its organisation following the completion of new chief executive Andrew Haines’ ‘100 Day Review’.
Introducing his plans, Andrew Haines said that the organisation needed to put passengers and freight users first: “The need for radical change is clear. 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.”
His solution is to decentralise, pushing devolution forward and shrinking the central overhead. Increasing the number of routes, from eight to 13, is intended to make them more aligned to train operators’ franchises, to improve the synergy between track and train and to reverse poor performance.
These 13 routes will fall into five new Regions that will have the headquarters teams to support them and, the idea is, make Network Rail “fleeter of foot”.
Many current ‘head-office’ roles and responsibilities are to devolve and will be absorbed by the five new regions, which will be of sufficient size and scale to support the customer-facing end of the business (the routes).
So the five new regional managing directors will, between them, be responsible for the 13 new routes. The intention is that this will allow Network Rail to reduce its national centre still further and to be much more aligned to the passenger and train operators, enabling a more cohesive and joined-up railway focussed on delivering a better and more punctual service for customers.
In addition to this new structure, other changes will take place:
- Infrastructure Projects and elements of System Operator, Safety Technical & Engineering, and Group Digital Railway will be devolved in a series of phases between now and the end of 2020, but only when Network Rail is confident that the routes/regions are ready to receive them;
- A new services directorate – Network Services Directorate – will be established alongside the existing Route Services. Both will provide services delivered with a strong customer-service culture;
- The new Network Services Directorate will incorporate freight and national passenger operators as well as elements of Group Digital Railway and certain national services, providing assurance for national operational performance and coordinating national programmes and capability;
- The Route Services Directorate will continue to provide business services that benefit from economies of scale (such as payroll) and services that support railway operations involving resources that are scarce and/or managed more efficiently at a national level, such as the track renewal high-output programme;
- Finance, HR, Communications, Legal and Property will be largely unaffected by the programme at this stage, although each will be developing their own plans for how to integrate with and support the new operating model for the business.
The names of the individuals taking up the new roles have not been released. Posts will be advertised over the coming weeks – those in the routes will be focused on today’s railway and service to customers (operators and passengers) while the regions will concentrate both on the future and, at the same time, support the routes to run the railway.
“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,” Andrew Haines concluded. “The changes I’m announcing today are designed to do just that.”