“Genuine consensus” exists relating to the areas of the rail industry that are a cause for concern, but not on how to deal with them. That is the message in Nicola Shaw’s scoping of the review into The future shape and financing of Network Rail.
The 76-page scope sets out the High Speed 1 chief executive’s areas for further investigation, ahead of making final recommendations early next year. Shaw was tasked with conducting the review back in July, and this is her first public report on her progress.
Shaw says that “despite the wide range of perspectives” she has heard within the industry, “there appears to be genuine consensus that:
- The way we do long-term planning for rail could be improved - in a variety of ways.
- The processes we have in a number of areas are frustrating and time-consuming and could be considerably slicker and more effective.
- There is concern that, even if the rail industry is extremely efficient, the fund required for investment in rail infrastructure won’t be available in future because of the changes to Network Rail’s finances now that its debt is part of the government balance sheet.”
However, Shaw reports that there was a lack of consensus in her conversations about how “these shared concerns” could be dealt with. She confirmed that “at the end of this work, I would like to be able to propose changes to Network Rail’s structure and financing which will, among other things, help Britain to develop economically and socially”.
Shaw is now seeking further engagement with the industry to inform her final recommendations, through discussion sessions and written responses by Christmas Eve.
The terms of reference for the Shaw Report
- To develop recommendations for the longer-term future shape and financing of Network Rail.
- The work is to be presented jointly to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
- It will divide into a scoping study and a detailed report with implementation proposals - the former to be completed in autumn 2015, and the latter by the time of the Budget in spring 2016.
The investigations under way into Network Rail
The Shaw Report describes these as covering the past, present and future of Network Rail:
- Dame Collette Bowe, non-executive director at the Department for Transport, is considering the past - in particular what lessons can be learned from the Periodic Review process for Control Period 5 (CP5).
- Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, is looking at the present, and how to deliver as much of the current enhancements programme as possible.
- As announced in the Summer Budget, Nicola Shaw, chief executive of High Speed 1, is conducting a report into the future of Network Rail.
- For more on The Shaw Report, see RAIL 788, on sale November 25.