July 31, 2017

Network Rail opens the door to private sector participation

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NETWORK Rail (NR) has announced a series of “sweeping reforms,” which will enable the private sector to play a more active role in delivering major infrastructure projects.

The measures are being put forward in response to a review into NR’s business practices by Professor Peter Hansford, which followed a series of cost overruns on major engineering projects.

The reforms being put forward in the wake of the review include:
• publishing a regular pipeline of third-party project opportunities
• creating “third party project champions” to work with delivery bodies, investors and funders to ensure their projects are successful
• creating a clear service level agreement for third parties so they have clarity and reassurance regarding NR’s legal obligations
• introducing flexibility to railway standards to encourage innovation and reduce costs without compromising on safety, and
• launching a rewards scheme where money saved from introducing a new idea or innovation is shared between NR and the company or individual.

NR says these reforms will unlock new sources of funding because potential investors will have choices over which companies deliver projects.

NR recently signed a two-year signalling and train control contract with Resonate, Britain, which will see the supplier bearing risk in new technology, albeit with incentives which enable it to share any savings made from reducing delays.

NR says it plans to publish details of which projects will be put out to competitive tender by the end of this year. Initial opportunities are likely to focus on smaller projects such as new stations, depots, and car parks.

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