Network Rail has released its plans for Control Period 6, which starts on 1 April 2019. These show how the company intends to spend over £42 billion over the five years of CP6 (2019-2024) on maintaining and renewing the railway with the aim of increasing reliability and improving performance.
Earlier this year, Network Rail accepted the ‘final determination’, published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), that laid out how much money was being made available and what should be delivered in return. Publication of Network Rail’s delivery plans is the final step in that process and details how that money is to be spent.
The plans have been worked up from a local level, with individual regions benefitting for the first time from their own budgets, designed in collaboration with local people. They focus on making improvements to what matters most to passengers and freight users, targeting punctuality and reliability through better assets, timetables and information, and working much more closely with train operating companies.
Network Rail’s chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Passengers and freight users are at the heart of our plans over the next five years. Performance has been nowhere near good enough and public trust in our industry has declined. This must change.
“Our role is to deliver a railway that people can rely on, with trains that turn up and arrive at their destination on time, and where passengers have confidence they are in safe hands. This is what we must deliver daily and what we will, and should, be held to account for throughout CP6.
“Our plans for the next five years bring us much closer to train operating companies and local decision makers, they cut red tape and make it easier for others to work with us, and most importantly they put a real focus on the users of the railway.”
These plans are broken down into the existing Network Rail routes and functions. So, there are nine route strategic plans, along with plans for functions such as finance, Group Digital Railway, and infrastructure Projects.
However, chief executive Andrew Haines recently announced that the structure of the company would change, being devolved into five regions and thirteen routes. Infrastructure projects will cease to exist, and Group Digital Railway will be devolved to the regions, when the time is appropriate – a process to be overseen by new managing director Stuart Calvert.
The first phase of this devolution process, the formation of the routes and region, is planned to take place in the summer of 2019, with everything completed by the end of 2020. Therefore, the strategic plans just announced have to be based around the current structure.
It’s not the only change, Network Rail’s plans include improving the public performance measure (PPM) punctuality figures from 85.7 per cent (2018-2019) to 87.5 per cent (2019-2020) and 89.8 per cent (2023-2024). However, recent announcements, which post-date these plans, show that, in future, performance is likely to be measured in terms of actual lateness at all stops on the journey, not just at the terminus – the measure used to calculate PPM today.
The railway isn’t static, so plans have to take account of these changes.
In addition, the £42 billion that has been annpounced forms part of the total government funding available of £53 billion, £48 billion for England and Wales from the Department for Transport, and £5 billion from Transport Scotland. The higher, £53 billion figure also includes funding for enhancements, both committed schemes from CP5 and new projects in CP6.