Network Rail today unveiled its 2003 business plan as a blueprint for improving performance and maximising cost efficiencies through a huge programme of action and activity. The plan maps out what needs to be done on the nation’s rail infrastructure over the next ten years to deliver a network which meets the required standards of safety, performance and reliability at the lowest possible cost to our customers and ultimately the taxpayers.
Network Rail has already started to tackle the challenges ahead:-
· For the first time in the railway’s 160-year history a standard organisation is being established across the country to manage the infrastructure in a consistent manner with responsibility pushed down to the front-line.
· 18 area delivery groups set up covering the entire network to provide a local focus on lifting performance and driving down costs.
· Greater control of maintenance with a radical new approach called the New Maintenance Programme that will transfer to our own engineers the vital elements of asset information, setting work priorities and verifying that it has been done properly.
· Taking three maintenance contract areas (representing 14% of national rail mileage and 16% of total annual maintenance contract values) in-house to better understand the maintenance process and hence our ability to control these costs.
· Creation of an integrated performance unit to give greater focus on performance and improved analysis of the root cause of delay.
· More than £200 million invested in new plant and technology to improve both the infrastructure condition and our asset knowledge.
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Plan – 2
Ian McAllister, Chairman, said: “It is now six months since Network Rail acquired Railtrack Plc and all our experience since then has confirmed our initial analysis. Britain’s rail network is suffering from a huge legacy of under-investment.”
He continued: “We have a fragile network that has been starved of a steady rate of renewals for many years, resulting in poor performing infrastructure that needs more maintenance to carry ever more traffic. Network Rail is here to address the problem this legacy has left. Action is being taken, but it will take time to see the changes we’re making deliver results.”
The lack of steady investment means a “bow wave” of renewals has arrived and needs to be addressed. At privatisation in 1996, 500 miles of rail track needed to be replaced every year to maintain a steady state. In the six year’s before privatisation, British Rail was replacing just 300 miles a year. Under Railtrack, this fell still further to just 200 miles a year. That means, in 12 years a backlog of up to 4,000-miles has built up.
The Chairman commented: “Network Rail is determined to turn this problem around, but it will take time and although we have an unwavering commitment to driving down costs the network simply needs large-scale investment to replace worn-out assets. We recognise that the current costs are unaffordable in the long-term. We must be prepared to challenge the assumptions behind the costs, ensure they are robust and strive to deliver even more efficiencies where possible. We will continue to develop our expenditure projections and submit them to the Regulator as part of the interim review.
“Our business plan is a practical programme for change; a manifesto for action. We must improve the effectiveness of maintenance in the short-term, determine the required level of renewals over the longer term and improve our efficiency to match that of the best of the world.”
The plan also looks to deliver improvements in performance over the next three years:-
- 21% reduction in delay minutes to 11.26 million
- 39% reduction in number of broken rails to 291
- 29% reduction in number of temporary speed restrictions to 417
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Plan - 3
The Chairman concluded: “We are determined to deliver improvements in performance, reliability and efficiency. There are no quick fixes and no easy answers. Our business plan sets out a realistic approach to delivering real change and lasting improvements.”