The next five-year funding period is taking shape; introduced on 1 April, Control Period 6 (CP6) will see the most expensive programme of work delivered on Britain’s rail network.
Scotland will receive record investment as part of this commitment, but how will the projects be delivered?
Transport Scotland’s Director of Rail is Bill Reeve. He outlined the organisation’s plans to invest in the railway, what is needed, and how any constraints will be overcome.
This is an excerpt from the full interview that will appear in issue 9 of Transport Britain.
How has the start of Control Period 6 gone for Transport Scotland?
Control Period 6 will see the most significant change in the way we fund railways in Scotland since executive devolution.
The UK industry-wide move from Regulated Asset Base (RAB) investment to capital grant funding brings a new set of governance and oversight requirements. This ensures we comply with public finance best practice while also learning the many lessons from Control Period 5, notably around the delivery of the major capital investment programme.
This has resulted in a lot of change in a relatively short period of time, which is never ideal. However, working closely with the rail industry in Scotland, we have come together with a positive ‘can do’ attitude. And, while it is still early days, we are confident the systems and processes we’re putting in place will deliver a successful Control Period.
In terms of what has been awarded to Scotland, what are your thoughts? Is this what you were expecting?
The constraints on Scottish Government funding are no secret. As is the fact that we did not get a fair deal from rail from the UK Government, which was markedly below the 11.17% agreed under the original executive devolution settlement.
However, this has not lessened our desire to invest in rail, but the reality is that we will not be able to make all of the investments in rail as quickly as we would like.
This is why it is even more critical that we learn from the challenges of the previous control period to make sure that our industry partners can deliver the improved outcomes that we all seek much more efficiently than it has done in recent times.
The industry also has to do better in minimising the disruption to passengers and freight customers of rail works. Otherwise we risk undermining the case for public investment in rail.
How did you prepare for CP6? Were there areas of the railway that you prioritised for maintenance/renewal?
We published our HLOS, which set out the Scottish Ministers requirements of the railway. This included those targets for performance, capacity and resilience which we believe will deliver high quality services for rail users.
However, we also set the industry, and Network Rail in particular, a range of other challenges which are designed to optimise the railways contribution to inclusive economic growth.
These include improved journey times, carbon reduction, climate change adaptation, freight growth, and critically, a whole system, devolved approach to rail planning, decision making and delivery.
Clearly, improving passenger performance is a priority for us, which is why Network Rail’s operations, maintenance and renewal budget is 21% higher in Control Period 6.
The Scottish Ministers will be holding both the Office of Rail and Road and Network Rail to account on the delivery of improvements.
What will be the greatest benefits for businesses?
Control Period 6 will build on the success of our rail investment programme. This ensures business will continue to benefit from reduced journey times and better connectivity between our main cities; new or modernised rolling stock across the network with improved WiFi connectivity; better integration with other forms of transport; greater opportunities to move goods efficiently by rail freight; and improved facilities at stations.