Dec 6, 2016

Network Rail to be stripped of complete control of railway tracks

The Transport Secretary says the major change will lead to more reliable services and help "transform the passenger experience".

Image Caption:Network Rail said it welcomed the plans. File picture

Network Rail is to be stripped of its complete control of England's railway tracks under Government plans.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling wants the publicly owned company to share its responsibility for running the tracks with private train operators.

Mr Grayling thinks the major change will lead to more reliable services and help "transform the passenger experience".

Network Rail said it welcomed the changes as they will strengthen its existing alliances with operators.

In a speech at the Policy Exchange think-tank in London, Mr Grayling will say the relationship between the tracks and the trains needs to change, because the lack of a coordinated approach can "make things much worse" when disruption happens.
Image Caption:Mr Grayling's speech coincides with another Southern Railway strike

He will say: "In my experience, passengers don't understand the division between the two. They just want someone to be in charge. They want their train to work. I agree with them.

"I intend to start bringing back together the operation of track and train on our railways ... I believe it will mean they run better on a day-to-day basis ... our railway is much better-run by one joined-up team of people.

"They don't have to work for the same company. They do have to work in the same team."

New franchises on the South Eastern and East Midlands routes in 2018 will have integrated operating teams overseeing both train services and infrastructure.

Similar action could be taken for other contract renewals in the coming years.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: "We strongly welcome these plans to bring more joined-up working within the industry.

"We have already devolved Network Rail into route-based businesses closer to customers, and the proposals announced today will build on the alliances we have created between these route businesses and train-operators."

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group - which represents train operators and Network Rail - said: "Effectively managed teams focused on the same objectives will resolve problems and make progress more quickly.

"We will work with the Government to make sure that we meet customers' needs and expectations, finding new ways of working and new sources of investment."

Mr Grayling will face protesting rail workers when he arrives to make his speech on Tuesday, as it coincides with another strike in the ongoing dispute over changes to the role of conductors on Southern Railway services.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will try to speak to the minister to press their case, defending the role of guards.
Source -

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