A report into the future of Network Rail has rejected privatising the company and has alternatively focused on devolving responsibility to its main operating routes and attracting further private sector investment.
The Shaw report, by High Speed 1 (HS1) CEO Nicola show, has also called for a new dedicated route for the north of England.
The report calls for the creation of a ‘Route Service Directorate’ in order to maintain the benefits of economies of scale, within a system where more responsibility is devolved to the main geographical routes.
The report states that a ‘Route Service Directorate’ would act as a provider to the routes of services for which economies of scale or scope might be retained through centralised delivery, or for which a degree of network-wide coordination is needed”.
The Route Service Directorate would procure specialist resources such as Network Rail’s yellow plant, which has equipment to monitor and maintain the state of lines and infrastructure.
The report called for better long-term planning in rail policy. It states that a longer-term understanding of political priorities, for example, the timescales of major innovations such as introducing digitised signalling, would give the supply chain sufficient lead time to train delivery staff.
The report also proposed for a virtual freight route to stand alongside the devolved geographical routes and manage relationships between freight operators and the other routes.
This new freight route would help develop and implement freight policy, manage freight performance and ensure that freight operators are not overlooked. It would offer freight companies and customers a single point of contact to arrange access to multiple routes and engage in very short-term train planning.
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