The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has released its much-anticipated Periodic Review 2018 (PR18) which sets out how Network Rail should deliver safety and reliability in the next control period.
Responsible for the economic and safety regulation of Britain’s railways, the ORR’s PR18 is a direct response to Network Rail’s Strategic Business Plan, which sets out how record levels of investment will be spent on the railways in Control Period 6 (CP6), from 2019 – 2024.
The ORR has spoken to Business Britain about the Periodic Review process and now, after spending time assessing the Strategic Business Plan, the regulator has set out its Draft Determination, which identifies “greater scope” for Network Rail to go even further than what has been set out in CP6, so that reliability and safety can be improved for freight customers and other passengers.
While the ORR believe the five-year plan, which will see in excess of £30 billion spent in England and Wales, contains better route-based plans for the previous five years, a series of amendments have been suggested.
- Delivering approximately £1 billion of additional renewals work in order to replace worn out assets, bringing the total renewals budget to £18 billion.
- An extra £80 million in safety-related expenditure on initiatives such as worker safety and level crossings.
- Make sure all train companies engage fully with finalising passenger performance targets.
- Address concerns from the supply chain regarding the impact of fluctuation in spending on efficiency.
- Strengthen the monitoring and financial controls on the Network Rail System Operator function.
Elsewhere, in the Periodic Review, the ORR has also told Network Rail that variable access charge increases for freight and charter operators should be capped; freight services carrying biomass for electricity supply industry are subject to charges.
The regulator’s Chief Executive, Joanna Whittington, said: “ORR’s initial assessment of Network Rail’s five year plan shows that the transition from a centrally run company to one structured round eight geographic routes has improved the quality of the plans but we want to see £1 billion more spent on renewing the railway to improve reliability and boost safety.”
The final determination will be published in October.