Network Rail has agreed its £35bn funding package and spending plan for control period 6 (CP6), which will run for the next five years to 2024.
The move marks the start of a new era for Network Rail under new chief executive Andrew Haines, who told New Civil Engineer his plans to turn around seven sustained years of decline in train performance.
He said: “We are seen as bureaucratic, slow, difficult and arrogant, and have too many people too many steps away from the real-time running of the railway.”
Haines has ordered a major structural reorganisation to make Network Rail more customer-focused, including increasing the eight existing geographical routes to 13 to better align them with franchises. Five regions will support the 13 new routes with the previously centralised Infrastructure Projects division split up and devolved to them.
The digital railway initiative has been canned, meaning future digital signalling programmes will now roll into signalling upgrades.
It comes as the chair of a major review of the rail sector says the industry “no longer possesses the same ability or incentive to innovate”.
In the annual George Bradshaw address, independent rail review chair Keith Williams said that large numbers of people travelling by train had meant that focus had moved from innovation to improving reliability, adding that more investment is needed in areas like the digital railway to improve the system.
Meanwhile, the government has announced that it is to partially revive its previously scrapped plan to electrify the Midland Main Line.
Electrification of the line will now be extended north of Kettering to Market Harborough. This is around 20km further north than the point at which the electrification work was to stop when it was scrapped by transport secretary Chris Grayling in July 2017.
Rail electrification was the scourge of the previous financial control period, with the Great Western Main Line electrification blowing its original £874M budget as costs spiralled to £2.8bn.
In the North, rail businesses from across the region have backed Transport for the North (TfN) plans to use “targeted electrification schemes”.
Strategic business plan 2018 timeline