Control Period 6 (CP6) – commencing at the beginning of April – will see record amounts spent on Britain’s railways over the five-year funding period.
Putting these plans in place has been a carefully considered process, with collaboration between Network Rail and the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
Following approval of the spending plans from the ORR, Network Rail has now given the green light.
The preparation for CP6 differed from that of previous funding periods and now, on the eve of the start of CP6, Charles Robarts, Network Rail’s Director of Planning and Regulation, told Transport Britain how preparations have progressed, and how the lessons learned have been carried forward.
This is an excerpt of an interview that will appear in the next Transport Britain publication.
We’re less than a month away from the start of CP6. How have Network Rail’s preparations gone?
We have continued to update our CP6 plans, which will culminate in publication of our CP6 Delivery Plan at the end of March 2019. This reflects the continuation of over three years of work and is based on routes’ ongoing engagement with customers on priorities for CP6, as well as taking account of the decisions set out in ORR’s October 2018 Final Determination.
We are using leading indicators to monitor our readiness for the start of CP6. The routes have made good progress including agreeing access, developing robust workbanks and finalising performance targets. Leading indicators will continue to be used during CP6 to ensure there is ongoing focus on forward planning across the business.
Now that funding has been confirmed, could you give us a breakdown of what the money will be spent on, and which locations the investment will be spent?
Our CP6 plan focuses on our four key responsibilities to run a safe, reliable, efficient and growing railway. It reflects ongoing discussions with customers, as well as the decisions set out in ORR’s Final Determination. The CP6 Delivery Plan will be published at the end of March 2019. It will include updated strategic plans for each geographic route, the Freight and National Passenger Operator (FNPO) route and the System Operator. These will summarise renewals costs and volumes, and operations and maintenance costs for CP6 associated with the delivery of each route’s plan.
Can you give us a detailed explanation about what rail users can expect in the next five years. How is this different from CP5?
A key focus for Network Rail over the next five years is ensuring a service mindset across the whole business. We’re not an engineering organisation, or a projects organisation, or a maintenance organisation, or an operations organisation. We do all of the above, but ultimately Network Rail exists to deliver a railway that passengers and freight users can rely on. So the challenge is altering our approach and changing the way we think as an organisation. We know performance hasn’t been good enough over recent years, and we are working closely with train operators to improve that over the course of CP6.
CP5 saw a number of flagship projects complete that helped to improve services and facilities for passengers – from the roll-out of the Thameslink programme to the completion of upgrades of various stations including London Bridge, Birmingham New Street and Reading – but in CP6, the majority of the £53 billion government funding will be spent on operations, maintenance and renewals rather than enhancements.
What lessons have been learnt from the successes or otherwise of CP5, and how have you implemented these into the latest control period?
We have made significant improvements in the business planning process for CP6 to avoid the major challenges that we faced during CP5, when plans were not locally owned and efficiency targets were set top down, with inadequate plans to deliver them.
Route plans are informed by ongoing customer engagement which has focused on understanding customer priorities and plans that, as far as possible, meet customers’ expectations. At the heart of this engagement are customer-agreed CP6 scorecards for each route and the System Operator. These will set out what we plan to deliver for our customers and funders, and how we are performing against them. We will continue to update our plans during CP6 which will be informed by ongoing engagement with customers. We will report our progress on delivering our plan, with route scorecards providing an overall picture of each route’s performance.
Read the full interview in Transport Britain.