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Network Rail devolves more powers in routes shake up

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Network Rail’s new chief executive Andrew Haines has ordered a major structural reorganisation to make the network “more responsive”. 

Following Haines’ 100 day review, Network Rail has announced a major shake up of its routes aimed at putting “passengers and freight users first”.

The shake up involves devolving more powers as well as creating additional routes to “align operations to reverse poor performance”.

The eight existing geographical routes will be increased to 13 in a bid to make them “more responsive” to train operators’ franchises and enable track and train operators to work closer together.

Network rail 100 days review route reconfiguration

Network Rail 100 day review route reconfiguration

Meanwhile, freight – which operates under its own national network – will be moved into a new network services directorate and remain largely as it is now.

As part of the shake up, five regions will support the 13 new routes with previously centralised infrastructure projects being devolved to the regions. Network Rail said this shrinking of the centralised system will be the “key to success”.

Haines said: “The need for radical change is clear. Performance is not good enough and my comprehensive discussions with partners, passengers and politicians up and down the country have made clear to me the things we do well and the areas where we need to improve.

“Devolution has to go much deeper to enable us to get much closer to our partners and customers and be in a much better place to put passengers first and deliver for business too. The changes I’m announcing today are designed to do just that.”

Divisions within Network Rail, such as system operator, safety technical and engineering, and group digital railway will also be partly devolved to the routes.

How this will be carried out has yet to be confirmed with Network Rail saying it will carry out the devolution in phases between now and the end of 2020.

Other parts of the group digital railway and certain national services will also be moved into the Network Services Directorate.

The nine existing routes (eight geographical, plus freight) were only announced in Network Rail’s control period 6 (CP6) 2019 to 2024 strategic business plan with further details of how they would be organised released in February last year.

Railway Industry Association chief executive Darren Caplan welcomed the move saying it was an acknowledgement that the organisation had to become more transparent, accessible and business-focused.

“This ‘100-day’ plan will be a success if it creates a culture of collaboration that ensures suppliers, from world-class multinationals through to our many innovative SMEs, are seen as partners with Network Rail, delivering value rather than as just the providers of products and services,” said Caplan.

The new routes and regions will now be:

Eastern Region

1 East Coast Route (to be defined in due course)

2 North East Route

3 East Midlands Route

4 Anglia Route

London North Western (LNW) Region

5 LNW North Route

6 LNW South Route

Scotland Region

7 Scotland Route

Southern Region

8 Kent Route

9 High speed rail Route

10 Sussex Route

11 Wessex Route

Wales and Western Region

12 Wales Route

13 Western Route

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