Trans­port Sec­re­tary wants to 'in­te­grate track and train'...

"Our rail­way is much bet­ter run by one team of peo­ple work­ing to­gether."

Rail (UK) - - Front Page - Richard Clin­nick As­sis­tant Edi­tor richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @Clin­nick1

OP­ER­A­TION of track and trains will be brought to­gether again, un­der plans un­veiled by Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port Chris Grayling on De­cem­ber 6.

In a speech to the Pol­icy Ex­change, he said: “It will be a process of evo­lu­tion and not rev­o­lu­tion, but I be­lieve it will mean a bet­ter rail­way on a day-to-day ba­sis, and it will mean that it is much eas­ier to meet the chal­lenges to­day’s net­work faces.”

Speak­ing about Net­work Rail, Grayling said it was “a com­mit­ted or­gan­i­sa­tion with a fan­tas­tic safety record, the safest ma­jor rail­way net­work in Europe. But it has been too cum­ber­some, has not al­ways been an un­qual­i­fied suc­cess in de­liv­er­ing the up­grades our rail­ways need, and does need to fo­cus much more on pas­sen­gers.” He said it “needed to change” and that its man­age­ment want change to hap­pen.

Grayling high­lighted Ni­cola Shaw’s rec­om­men­da­tions around devo­lu­tion, but added: “Ev­ery mo­nop­oly needs com­pe­ti­tion. So I want to go one step fur­ther, and bring new skills into the chal­lenge of up­grad­ing our rail­ways - to test the ways we are do­ing things right now, and find ways of do­ing them bet­ter. I want to bring for­ward a new strat­egy for rail in due course, but I want to out­line to­day some of my think­ing.”

Grayling ex­pects the South East­ern and East Mid­lands fran­chises to have in­te­grated op­er­at­ing teams. These are the next fran­chises due in the bid­ding process, with both to be re-let in 2018.

He said: “Whether it’s plan­ning es­sen­tial re­pairs, putting in place im­prove­ments that can squeeze in an ex­tra ser­vice on a crowded route, or re­spond­ing quickly to a prob­lem on the net­work, our rail­way is much bet­ter run by one team of peo­ple work­ing to­gether. They don’t have to work for the same com­pany. They do have to work in the same team.”

Grayling said he plans to press ahead with a rec­om­men­da­tion put to the Govern­ment by Sir Roy McNulty (in his Re­al­is­ing the po­ten­tial of GB Rail re­port in 2011) that to re­duce unit costs in­cluded train op­er­at­ing com­pa­nies work­ing closer and part­ner­ing with in­fras­truc­ture bid­ders. He said: “I will do this ini­tially at an op­er­a­tional level.”

Govern­ment will con­tinue to de­velop the model as fur­ther fran­chises are re­newed. Joint ven­tures will be con­sid­ered, and Grayling added that the needs of freight and open ac­cess op­er­a­tors must also be con­sid­ered.

“The so­lu­tions in var­i­ous ar­eas may dif­fer from each other in their mod­els, but the out­come will be the same - a rail­way that is pre­dom­i­nantly run by an in­te­grated lo­cal team of peo­ple with an ab­so­lute com­mit­ment to the smooth op­er­a­tion of their route,” he said.

Grayling also an­nounced that Govern­ment will change the way fran­chises are let.

“On a net­work which needs sub­stan­tial pub­lic sub­sidy and which needs bil­lions of pounds of in­vest­ment, it is right that we seek to max­imise the rev­enue which flows back to the pub­lic purse. But this can­not be done at the ex­pense of the pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

“I be­lieve we can push for qual­ity and still achieve the fi­nan­cial per­for­mance that the tax­payer needs.” He said he will be re­view­ing how this is com­pleted ahead of the forth­com­ing East Mid­lands fran­chise com­pe­ti­tion.

Speak­ing to the in­dus­try, he said: “The in­dus­try can­not sim­ply take com­fort in its suc­cess in at­tract­ing the growth of the past 20 years. It al­ready strug­gles to cope with de­mand - and the mar­gin for er­ror is so slight that a small prob­lem can lead to long de­lays, can­cel­la­tions and over­crowd­ing. The level of de­mand and the num­ber of trains mean that things wear out quicker, and that there is less and less free time to do the re­pair works that the net­work needs.

“Per­for­mance has been de­clin­ing - and on a day like to­day, when com­muters have been strug­gling to and from work, this is not good enough. We have to turn this around.

“Our rail­ways need to adapt and change, in or­der to be able to cope with the growth that they have al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced and that which lies ahead. We need a rail­way

which is sus­tain­able in all senses of the word.”

Net­work Rail Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Mark Carne re­sponded: “We strongly wel­come these plans to bring more joined-up work­ing within the in­dus­try. We have al­ready de­volved Net­work Rail into route-based busi­nesses closer to cus­tomers, and the pro­pos­als an­nounced to­day will build on the al­liances we have cre­ated be­tween these route busi­nesses and train op­er­a­tors.

“We also strongly be­lieve there should be bet­ter align­ment of incentives be­tween train com­pa­nies and Net­work Rail. That is why we now align the per­for­mance incentives for all of Net­work Rail’s 35,000 staff, around tar­gets agreed jointly with train op­er­a­tors. But more needs to be done across the in­dus­try.

“Net­work Rail’s pub­lished trans­for­ma­tion plan is mov­ing us to be­ing a pub­lic sec­tor body that acts fo­cus on what cus­tomers want.”

How­ever, Shadow Trans­port Sec­re­tary Andy Mc­Don­ald said: “Invit­ing pri­vate train com­pa­nies to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for safety-crit­i­cal re­pairs and main­te­nance is an ir­re­spon­si­ble move.

“We don’t want to see a re­turn to the bad old days of Rail­track, where un­der­in­vest­ment and a poor safety record led to pas­sen­gers be­ing put at risk.

“Train op­er­at­ing com­pa­nies, some of which run abysmal ser­vices, should not be in­vited to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the re­pair and main­te­nance of Bri­tain’s rail­ways. Pri­vate com­pa­nies are only likely to have con­cern for our in­fras­truc­ture for their pe­riod of com­mer­cial in­ter­est, but our rail­ways re­quire long-term in­vest­ment and strate­gic think­ing. These are the wrong plans for Bri­tain’s rail­ways.

“It is time for our rail­ways to be run un­der pub­lic own­er­ship in the ex­pire, with af­ford­able fares for all and long-term in­vest­ment in the rail­way net­work. To­day’s an­nounce­ment will take us fur­ther away from that.”

Rail De­liv­ery Group Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Paul Plum­mer said: “Ev­ery­one in the rail­way wants to trans­form ser­vices for our cus­tomers, in­clud­ing bet­ter re­li­a­bil­ity. The Sec­re­tary of State is set­ting out a pos­i­tive vi­sion that we can all sup­port, and one that to­gether we want to make work.

“We need to en­sure that ev­ery part of our rail­way is more joined-up and work­ing closer to­gether - one rail­way pulling in the same direc­tion. Ef­fec­tively- man­aged teams fo­cused on the same ob­jec­tives will resolve prob­lems and make progress more quickly.”

Trans­port Fo­cus Chief Ex­ec­u­tive An­thony Smith said: “Pas­sen­gers want to see a more joined-up rail­way with trains and track com­pa­nies work­ing much more closely. So these pro­pos­als, in time, could make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence to the things pas­sen­gers care most about: re­li­a­bil­ity and value for money.

“The key in any new ar­range­ments is putting pas­sen­gers, their sat­is­fac­tion and pri­or­i­ties for im­prove­ment at the heart of them. It is the out­comes that are most im­por­tant for pas­sen­gers.”

LES NIXON.

Grayling: “Our rail­way is much bet­ter run by one team of peo­ple work­ing to­gether.”

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