Network Rail has introduced its ‘Open for Business’ agenda, which is aimed at making changes to standards to encourage greater funding and innovation in the industry.
The organisation, which operates and maintains the vast majority of Britain’s railways, has already updated standards of its own and is urging contractors, stakeholders and suppliers to do the same.
Changes to these standards, which underpin how railway and improvement projects are run, will bring huge benefits to Britain’s railways.
Not only will innovation and funding be improved, changes to the standards will maintain safety and bring greater efficiency to the rail industry, which is something that Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road are pushing for the next control period.
As part of Open for Business, Network Rail has already streamlined 400 standards that will bring reductions in cost and complexity and the push to improved innovation is part of the agenda to transform Network Rail into a public sector organisation that behaves like a private sector business.
The change in standards will, it is hoped, make it much easier to bring new ideas and streamlined procedures to market, and increase attractiveness to investors.
Jon Shaw is Chief Engineer at Network Rail. He said: “We’ve recently updated our 400 most critical standards but to ensure they always represent current best practice and constantly strive to safely reduce the cost of the railway, we need the help of our wider industry partners as well as experts from other industries and universities.
“The launch of the standards challenge process is the lever for this, providing genuine recognition and incentives to propose more efficient ways of both enhancing and maintaining our railway.”
The drive to improve standards has been welcomed by the wider industry, with the Railway Industry Association declaring: “Following two workshops with the rail supply chain, Network Rail have a system by which companies can provide their suggestions and ideas.
“Now, it is for the industry to come forward with their creative solutions – and we encourage all to do so.”