Network Rail creates ‘virtual route’ for freight and CrossCountry

DB 66014 at Peterborough. RICHARD CLINNICK.

Network Rail has created a new ‘virtual route’ for freight and national train operating companies.

The move follows the recommendations of the Shaw Report and forms part of the company’s ongoing plans for devolution. The route will be led by Paul McMahon (with the title of managing director, freight and national passenger operators), after Andy Thomas succeeds him as Wales route managing director in August (see separate story).

NR says the structure - in practice Arriva CrossCountry - will allow it to “reallocate focus and resources to deliver improvements in four key areas”.

These areas include extending customer representation and taking on responsibility for CrossCountry, which operates on seven of NR’s eight current routes, and providing additional resources to seek to improve safety. The other two areas are developing business with regional business development managers who will identify opportunities for growth and secure third-party funding to “boost delivery” of freight schemes, and enhancing governance arrangements.

NR says proposals for enhanced governance for CrossCountry and other national operators will be put forward following a review involving train operators, the freight sector and other industry bodies.

NR Managing Director England & Wales Phil Hufton said: “Rail freight is absolutely vital to Britain’s economy, and the changes we are putting in place will mean we are better able to represent the interests of our freight and national passenger service customers.  

“Freight operators’ satisfaction with the service they receive from Network Rail has improved significantly - but it’s important we continue to challenge ourselves to do more for all our customers, ensuring that their needs are balanced with those of train operating companies who wholly or predominantly operate on a single route.” 


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  • Ciaran - 01/06/2016 22:02

    Network rail have a love affair with CrossCountry and everything they do revolves around them. I can understand the complexity of their network and their paths are like threading a needle through almost everything else yet that does not mean they should receive unfair priority.

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  • Noam Bleicher - 02/06/2016 10:47

    What rot Ciaran. Until a couple of years ago Cross Country were at the back of the queue when it came to priority through congested areas. Trains on 5-6 hour journeys ran 20-30 min late throughout because of delays of a couple of minutes at the beginning of the run. It's only right that long-distance passengers paying triple-figure fares are given the opportunity to have trains running approximately to time. The only way to do this is to give them a bit more leeway than stopping services with recovery time built into termini visited once or more per hour.

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