Network Rail has announced comprehensive reforms aimed at increasing competition for the delivery of rail investment projects.
This is significant news for construction companies, who will find more opportunities given that, alone, Network Rail is responsible for more than a fifth of the infrastructure spend in Britain.
Unveiled by Network Rail’s Chief Executive, Mark Carne, the reforms will open up opportunities for a number of British construction companies to work on railway developments up and down the country.
Not only will this increase competition in the market, but it will hopefully drive up the already-high quality of work, giving passengers a better experience on the rail journeys.
Given that Network Rail has recently announced a record £3.9 billion investment on enhancements to facilities – on top of a successful 2016/17 Railway Upgrade Plan – it shows a commitment to infrastructure that, added to the reforms announced, points to potentially healthy project pipelines for construction companies.
Currently, the rail operator invests approximately £130 million in Britain’s railways every week and has in excess of 15,000 live projects.
These Network Rail reforms will ensure that a regular pipeline of third party project opportunities will be published.
Network Rail will create ‘third party project champions’ who will work alongside delivery bodies, funders and investors to guarantee that projects are successful.
Elsewhere, a rewards scheme will be launched, which will see any money saved shared between Network Rail and a company or individual, while flexibility to railway standards will be introduced.
A clear service level agreement will be created for third parties to provide clarity surrounding Network Rail’s legal obligations.
Mark Carne explained how the Network Rail reforms will drive the economy.
He said: “A growing railway drives the economy, jobs and housing and by welcoming open competition into the core of our business, we will increase the pace of innovation, creativity and efficiency and could deliver even more improvements to our railway, and for the people that use and rely on it every day.
“I am determined to create an environment where innovative third party companies can compete for and directly deliver railway projects.
“These reforms mark the next stage of Network Rail’s transformation, having already decentralised into nine devolved individual businesses.”
It is also thought that the reforms will help to unlock new funding sources, as investors will be able to choose who delivers their projects.
Not only that, central government and taxpayers will have less of a burden on them and ultimately, passengers and communities will reap the benefits.