Office of Road and Rail sets plans for Network Rail to spend £34bn over the next 5 years

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Network Rail
Credit: Network Rail

The Office of Road and Rail, ORR, has today set out an initial view of Network Rail‘s five-year plan, which includes spending £34bn in the next 5 years (CP6).

The £34 billion will be split 30/4, with England and Wales receiving £30bn, and Scotland receiving the remaining £4bn.

Railway performance has failed a lot of passengers in recent months. Stronger planning is needed to improve Network Rail performance, thus giving a better performance for passengers.

In its Draft Determination, the Office of Road and Rail has found greater scope for Network Rail to do more than it proposed to boost safety and reliability, for both passengers and freight.

The Office of Road and Rail will publish its final determination at the end of October.

The Office of Road and Rail have said Network Rail should amend its plans to:

  • Replace worn out assets, funded through changes including better efficiency totalling £1bn. Therefore, this will bring the renewals budget to £18bn across Britain.
  • Include an extra £80m for additional safety-related expenditure, including work on level crossings.
  • A reallocation of £900m of the £1.7bn England and Wales funding to manage financial risks.
  • Check that it’s working effectively with ALL train operating companies and that they fully engage in the process to finalise passenger performance targets. The ORR has directed Network Rail to review measures set out in Wessex, South East and Anglia.
  • Create a £10m performance innovation fund to support testing and implementing new ideas across Britain.A

Additionally, the Office of Road and Rail has said today:

  • Variable charge increases for freight and charter operators are now capped.
  • Freight services carrying biomass for the electricity industry will be subject to charges which recover some of Network Rail’s fixed costs in CP6
  • New open access operators will pay charges that recover fixed network costs. Where demand is sufficiently strong that the operator is able to pay. The terms in which they can access the network will change accordingly.
What did the officials say?

Joanna Whittington, Chief Executive, ORR, said:

“The entire rail industry, including passengers, freight customers and train operators, rely on Network Rail to deliver a high-quality service.

“ORR’s initial assessment of Network Rail’s five-year plans shows that the transition from a centrally run company to one structured around eight geographic routes has improved the quality of the plans but we want to see £1bn more spent on renewing the railway to improve reliability and boost safety.

“ORR will be monitoring and enforcing delivery by each of the routes so that passengers and freight customers will be able to rely on the railway for the essential service it provides.”

Responding to the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) draft determination, Mark Carne, the chief executive said:

“Today’s draft determination is an important step in the process to finalise our plans to deliver a safe, reliable, improving and growing railway in the five years to 2024. We welcome the regulator’s general support for our plans for Britain’s railways, delivering a more reliable service that passengers can rely on. It has accepted the majority of our plans, strongly supporting the changes we have been making including our focus on bringing track and train closer together,  supporting devolution, the creation of the System Operator and incorporating customer focused scorecards into its monitoring during CP6. We will consider the detail carefully over the coming months as there are still some areas of concern that we will need to work with ORR on before it publishes its final determination in October.”

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