Network Rail Unveils New Plans

Network Rail's today announced decentralisation plans "to deliver improvements to passengers while reducing costs".

NR said it was creating a number of new, devolved business units run by managing directors.

The changes were announced by NR's new chief executive David Higgins at a time when the not-for-dividend company is facing criticism over its costs and performance.

Mr Higgins said:

 "Network Rail has saved money and transformed the railway through central control but to make further improvements in all areas we now need to increase responsiveness at a local level.

"We're devolving accountability to the route level so that we can get closer to our customers and be in a better position to deliver improvements to passengers and freight users, while reducing costs."

He went on: "Each new route managing director will, in effect, be running their own infrastructure railway business with significant annual turnover and resources.

"This represents a significant change of emphasis to give our people on the routes the ability and the means to deliver a bigger, better, more affordable railway. However, we're determined not to undermine the progress that has been made, but to build on the strengths of what we've achieved.

"There will continue to be a critical role for a supporting centre that helps make the most of economies of scale. The railway still needs to be planned and operated as a network which operates seamlessly. And we must maintain the company's focus on efficient and effective management of long-life railway assets."

The first routes which will see the changes are Scotland and NR's Wessex area which covers the lines operated by South West Trains out of London's Waterloo station, covering parts of south west London, Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire and Dorset.

The Scotland and Wessex changes will take place in April, with other routes following as soon as possible.