Network Rail
Overview
Network Rail is the government-created owner and operator of most of the rail infrastructure in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 (England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

).; it is not responsible for railway infrastructure in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. Network Rail is a British "not for dividend" entity, technically a private company limited by guarantee, whose principal asset is Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, a company limited by shares
Private company limited by shares
A private company limited by shares, usually called a private limited company , is a type of company incorporated under the laws of England and Wales, Scotland, that of certain Commonwealth countries and the Republic of Ireland...

.

Network Rail's main customers are the separate and mostly private-sector train operating companies (TOCs), responsible for passenger transport, and freight operating companies (FOCs), who provide train services on the infrastructure that the company owns and maintains.
Encyclopedia
Network Rail is the government-created owner and operator of most of the rail infrastructure in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 (England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

).; it is not responsible for railway infrastructure in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

. Network Rail is a British "not for dividend" entity, technically a private company limited by guarantee, whose principal asset is Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, a company limited by shares
Private company limited by shares
A private company limited by shares, usually called a private limited company , is a type of company incorporated under the laws of England and Wales, Scotland, that of certain Commonwealth countries and the Republic of Ireland...

.

Network Rail's main customers are the separate and mostly private-sector train operating companies (TOCs), responsible for passenger transport, and freight operating companies (FOCs), who provide train services on the infrastructure that the company owns and maintains. Network Rail does not itself run passenger or freight services; ultimately both Network Rail and the train operating companies have the shared responsibility of delivering train services to the travelling public.

History

Britain's railway system was built by private companies, but it was nationalised by the Transport Act 1947
Transport Act 1947
The Transport Act 1947 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Under it the railways, long-distance road haulage and various other types of transport were acquired by the state and handed over to a new British Transport Commission for operation...

 and run by British Rail
British Rail
British Railways , which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages...

 until re-privatisation in the 1990s. Infrastructure and passenger and freight services were separated at that time. Between 1994 and 2002 the infrastructure was owned and operated by Railtrack
Railtrack
Railtrack was a group of companies that owned the track, signalling, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and all but a handful of the stations of the British railway system from its formation in April 1994 until 2002...

.

The Hatfield train crash on 17 October 2000 was a defining moment in the collapse of Railtrack. The immediate major repairs undertaken across the whole British rail network were estimated to have cost in the order of £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

580 million and Railtrack had no idea how many more 'Hatfields' were waiting to happen because it had lost considerable in-house engineering skill following the sale or closure of many of the engineering and maintenance functions of British Rail
British Rail
British Railways , which from 1965 traded as British Rail, was the operator of most of the rail transport in Great Britain between 1948 and 1997. It was formed from the nationalisation of the "Big Four" British railway companies and lasted until the gradual privatisation of British Rail, in stages...

 to external companies; nor did the company have any way of assessing the consequence of the speed restrictions it was ordering, which all but brought the railway network to a standstill. The costs of modernising the West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line
The West Coast Main Line is the busiest mixed-traffic railway route in Britain, being the country's most important rail backbone in terms of population served. Fast, long-distance inter-city passenger services are provided between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and the...

 were also spiralling. In 2001, Railtrack announced that, despite making a pre-tax profits before exceptional expenses of £199m, the £733m of costs and compensation paid out over the Hatfield crash had plunged Railtrack from profit into a loss of £534m, and it approached the government for funding, which it then used to pay a £137m dividend
Dividend
Dividends are payments made by a corporation to its shareholder members. It is the portion of corporate profits paid out to stockholders. When a corporation earns a profit or surplus, that money can be put to two uses: it can either be re-invested in the business , or it can be distributed to...

 to its shareholder
Shareholder
A shareholder or stockholder is an individual or institution that legally owns one or more shares of stock in a public or private corporation. Shareholders own the stock, but not the corporation itself ....

s in May 2001.

Network Rail took over ownership by buying Railtrack
Railtrack
Railtrack was a group of companies that owned the track, signalling, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and all but a handful of the stations of the British railway system from its formation in April 1994 until 2002...

 plc, which was in "railway administration", from Railtrack Group plc for £500 million. The purchase was completed on 3 October 2002.

Following an initial period in which Network Rail established itself and demonstrated its competence in addressing the principal challenges of improving asset condition, reducing unit costs and tackling delay, the Government's Rail Review in 2004 White Paper
White paper
A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and are often requested and used in politics, policy, business, and technical fields. In commercial use, the term has also come to refer to...

 said that Network Rail should be given responsibility for whole-industry performance reporting, timetable development, specification of small and medium network enhancements, and the delivery of route-specific utilisation strategies (RUS). Some of these are functions which Network Rail already had; others – such as the obligation to devise route utilisation strategies – were transferred to Network Rail from the Strategic Rail Authority
Strategic Rail Authority
In existence from 2001 to 2006, the Strategic Rail Authority was a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom set up under the Transport Act 2000 to provide strategic direction for the railway industry....

, a non-departmental public body, part of the UK government. The SRA was subsequently abolished.

The company moved its headquarters to Kings Place, 90 York Way, from 40 Melton Street, Euston, on 26 August 2008. On 3 October 2008, Sir Ian McAllister
Ian McAllister
Sir Ian Gerald McAllister, CBE is a Scottish businessman. Formerly chairman of Ford Motor Company UK, he was appointed chairman of Network Rail in 2002 and stepped down from this post in 2009.-Biography:...

 announced that he would not stand for re-election as chairman of Network Rail. He had held the position for six years. He noted that as Network Rail moved to a "new phase in its development" it was appropriate for a new chairman to lead it there.

Many track safety initiatives have been introduced in the time Network Rail has been responsible for this area. The latest, announced in December 2008, known as "All Orange", states that all track personnel must not only wear orange hi-vis waistcoats or jackets, but must also wear orange hi-vis trousers at all times when working on or near the track.

This new safety ruling came into force on 1 January 2009 for maintenance and property workers and on 1 April 2009 for infrastructure and investment sites.

In 2011 the company began the process of reorganising its operational structure into nine semi-autonomous regional entities, each with their own managing director; the first two units to be created were Scotland and Wessex regions. The re-organisation has been interpreted as a move back towards vertical integration of track and train operations.

Responsibilities

Network Rail owns the infrastructure, including the railway tracks
Rail tracks
The track on a railway or railroad, also known as the permanent way, is the structure consisting of the rails, fasteners, sleepers and ballast , plus the underlying subgrade...

, signal
Railway signalling
Railway signalling is a system used to control railway traffic safely, essentially to prevent trains from colliding. Being guided by fixed rails, trains are uniquely susceptible to collision; furthermore, trains cannot stop quickly, and frequently operate at speeds that do not enable them to stop...

s, tunnel
Tunnel
A tunnel is an underground passageway, completely enclosed except for openings for egress, commonly at each end.A tunnel may be for foot or vehicular road traffic, for rail traffic, or for a canal. Some tunnels are aqueducts to supply water for consumption or for hydroelectric stations or are sewers...

s, bridge
Bridge
A bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle...

s, level crossing
Level crossing
A level crossing occurs where a railway line is intersected by a road or path onone level, without recourse to a bridge or tunnel. It is a type of at-grade intersection. The term also applies when a light rail line with separate right-of-way or reserved track crosses a road in the same fashion...

s and most stations
Train station
A train station, also called a railroad station or railway station and often shortened to just station,"Station" is commonly understood to mean "train station" unless otherwise qualified. This is evident from dictionary entries e.g...

, but not the passenger or commercial freight rolling stock
Rolling stock
Rolling stock comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons...

. Network Rail took over ownership by buying Railtrack
Railtrack
Railtrack was a group of companies that owned the track, signalling, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and all but a handful of the stations of the British railway system from its formation in April 1994 until 2002...

 plc, which was in "railway administration", from Railtrack Group plc for £500 million.

Although it owns over 2,500 railway stations, it manages only 18 of the biggest and busiest of them, all the other stations being managed by one or other of the various train operating companies (TOCs). Network Rail had a 15-year lease on Square One
Square One
Square One can refer to:*Square One Shopping Centre, a shopping mall in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada*Square One Mall, a shopping mall in Saugus, Massachusetts, USA*Square One Television, a children's television series about math...

in Manchester with 800 staff in one of Manchester's largest refurbished office spaces.

Network Rail should not be confused with 'National Rail
National Rail
National Rail is a title used by the Association of Train Operating Companies as a generic term to define the passenger rail services operated in Great Britain...

'. National Rail is not an organisation, but merely a brand, used to explain and promote a Great-Britain-wide network of passenger railway services. The majority of Network Rail lines also carry freight traffic; some lines are freight only. A few lines that carry passenger traffic are not part of the National Rail network (for example High Speed 1, Heathrow Express
Heathrow Express
Heathrow Express is an airport rail link from London Heathrow Airport to London Paddington station in London operated by the Heathrow Express Operating Authority, a wholly owned subsidiary of BAA. It was opened by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998...

, Tyne And Wear Metro and the London Underground
London Underground
The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

). Conversely, a few National Rail services operate over track that is not part of the Network Rail network (for example where they run on London Underground
London Underground
The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

 track).

The current Chairman is Rick Haythornthwaite, and David Higgins is currently appointed as the Chief Executive.

Infrastructure

In October 2003 Network Rail announced that it would take over all infrastructure maintenance work from private contractors, following concerns about the quality of work carried out by certain private firms, and spiralling costs.

February 2004 saw the opening of an operations centre at Waterloo station
Waterloo station
Waterloo station, also known as London Waterloo, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex. The station is owned and operated by Network Rail and is close to the South Bank of the River Thames, and in Travelcard Zone 1....

 in London, operated jointly by Network Rail and the train operating company South West Trains
South West Trains
South West Trains is a British train operating company providing, under franchise, passenger rail services, mostly out of Waterloo station, to the southwest of London in the suburbs and in the counties of Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Somerset, Berkshire, and Wiltshire and on the Isle of Wight...

. This was the first full collaboration of its kind since privatisation, and it is regarded as a model for other areas of the network, with a further six integrated Network Rail + TOC Control Centres having opened since then, at Blackfriars
Blackfriars station
Blackfriars station, also known as London Blackfriars, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex in the City of London, England. Its platforms will eventually span the River Thames a short distance downstream from Blackfriars Bridge. The current entrance is located on the...

, Croydon
Croydon
Croydon is a town in South London, England, located within the London Borough of Croydon to which it gives its name. It is situated south of Charing Cross...

 (Leading Control for First Capital Connect), Swindon
Swindon railway station
Swindon railway station is in the town of Swindon, Wiltshire, England. The station entrance is on Station Road, to the south of the line.It is approximately from the central bus station and the town centre...

, Birmingham
Birmingham New Street Station
Birmingham New Street is the main railway station serving Birmingham, England, located in the city centre. It is an important hub for the British railway system, being served by a number of important long-distance and cross-country lines, including the Birmingham loop of the West Coast Main Line,...

, Glasgow and, most recently, Liverpool Street
Liverpool Street station
Liverpool Street railway station, also known as London Liverpool Street or simply Liverpool Street, is both a central London railway terminus and a connected London Underground station in the north-eastern corner of the City of London, England...

 and South Wales based in Cardiff Canton.

Track renewal, the ongoing modernisation of the railway network by replacing track and signalling, continues to be carried out by private engineering firms under contract. The biggest renewals project is the multi-billion-pound upgrade of the London to Glasgow West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line
The West Coast Main Line is the busiest mixed-traffic railway route in Britain, being the country's most important rail backbone in terms of population served. Fast, long-distance inter-city passenger services are provided between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and the...

, which was completed in 2008.

Network Rail initially sub-contracted much of the work and the site to private Infrastructure Maintenance Companies such as Carillion and First Engineering
Babcock International Group
Babcock International Group plc is a British-based support services company specialising in managing complex assets and infrastructure in safety-critical and mission-critical environments. Although the company has civil contracts, its main business is with public bodies, particularly the UK...

. Other sub-contractors are used on site for specialist work or additional labour. These include Prima Services Group, Sky Blue, Balfour Beatty, Laboursite, BCL, Atkins (Atkins Rail) and McGinleys.

Since 2003 Network Rail has been building up significant in-house engineering skills, including funding of apprenticeship and foundation degree schemes. Network Rail reports significant savings resulting from the initial transfers of work away from contracting companies. Additional contracts were taken back by Network Rail after the serious accident at Potters Bar
Potters Bar rail crash
There have been at least three railway accidents in Potters Bar, a town in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, just north of Greater London. One occurred in 1898, one in 1946 and the last in 2002.-1898:...

 and other accidents at Rotherham and King's Cross led Jarvis to pull out of the track repair business. Shortly after this, and due to other failures by maintenance companies, Network Rail took control of many more maintenance duties.

Telecomms maintenance came full circle in April 2009 with the bringing in house of the staff of Thales Telecom Services Ltd (formerly British Rail Telecommunications
British Rail Telecommunications
In May 1837 William Fothergill Cooke and Professor Charles Wheatstone entered into a partnership, and on 10th June patented a five-needle telegraph for which five wires were necessary. The telegraph worked by deflecting any two of the needles at the same time to point to any one of 20 letters on...

 (BRT)).

In 2006, Network Rail made public a high-tech plan to combat the effects of slippery rail
Slippery rail
Slippery rail is a condition of railways caused by fallen moist leaves that lie on and cling to the top surface of the rails of railway tracks. The condition results in significant loss of friction between train wheels and rails, and in extreme cases can render the track temporarily unusable...

. This plan involves the use of satellites for tracking trouble areas, water-jetting trains and crews using railhead scrubbers, sand sticks and a substance called Natrusolve, which dissolves leaf mulch.

All workers working on, near or trackside have to undergo a Personal Track Safety
Personal Track Safety
Personal Track Safety is a system of safer working practices employed within the United Kingdom designed to ensure the safety of railway workers who have to work on the lineside....

 assessment (re-assessed every two years) Network Rail workers undergo an assessment every year as part of AITL (Assessment In The Line). The AITL requires each worker to go through questions on a computer based program on all the competencies held.

The safety record of the company has been marred by the Grayrigg derailment
Grayrigg derailment
The Grayrigg derailment was a fatal railway accident that occurred at approximately 20:15 GMT on 23 February 2007, just to the south of Grayrigg, Cumbria, in North West England. The initial conclusion of the accident investigation is that the derailment was caused by a faulty set of points ,...

, when a Virgin express was derailed at Grayrigg in Cumbria on 23 February 2007. Network Rail admitted responsibility for the incident. The RAIB investigation concluded in August 2009 that a faulty set of points had caused the derailment.

In September 2007 it was announced that the number of track renewal contractors will be reduced to four from the current six.
These are now Amey
Amey plc
Amey plc, previously known as Amey Ltd and Amey Roadstone Construction, is a United Kingdom based infrastructure support service provider. It was once listed on the London Stock Exchange but since 2003 it has been a subsidiary of Spanish company Grupo Ferrovial, S.A....

/SECO
Seco Rail
Colas Rail is a British rail freight company, formerly known as Seco Rail. Seco Rail was the name of the UK subsidiary of the French railway engineering company SECO which operates in Europe. SECO was founded in 1931. In 2000 SECO was purchased by the road building company Colas...

, Balfour Beatty
Balfour Beatty
Balfour Beatty plc is a British construction, engineering, military housing, rail and investment services company. It is one of the largest construction companies in the UK, and the 15th largest in the world...

, Babcock First Engineering
Babcock International Group
Babcock International Group plc is a British-based support services company specialising in managing complex assets and infrastructure in safety-critical and mission-critical environments. Although the company has civil contracts, its main business is with public bodies, particularly the UK...

 and Jarvis PLC
Jarvis PLC
Jarvis plc is a British company that provides support services to the British railway industry. It also runs rail freight operations. The most significant feature of the modern firm is its leading share of the UK’s railway maintenance and infrastructure services.-19th and 20th centuries:The...

. Jarvis PLC has since gone into administration, with the bulk of its work commitments being picked up by Babcock.

Stations

Network Rail owns more than 2,500 railway stations, divided into six categories
United Kingdom railway station categories
The 2,535 railway stations on the National Rail network in the United Kingdom are classified into six categories and four subcategories by the Department for Transport. The scheme was devised in 1996 and there was a review in 2009 when 106 stations changed categories. The categorisation scheme is...

. Management and operation of most of them is carried out mostly by the principal train operating company serving that station; however, in a few cases the train operating company does not serve the station, for example Hinckley
Hinckley railway station
Hinckley railway station serves the town of Hinckley in Leicestershire, England. The station is owned by Network Rail and managed by East Midlands Trains Train Operating Company ....

 is managed but not served by East Midlands Trains
East Midlands Trains
East Midlands Trains is a British passenger train operating company. Based in Derby, it provides train services in the East Midlands, chiefly in the counties of Lincolnshire, South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, and between the East Midlands and London...

.

Network Rail manages and operates 18 of the largest and busiest stations directly, including most of the main London terminal stations. The London stations are London Bridge
London Bridge station
London Bridge railway station is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex in the London Borough of Southwark, occupying a large area on two levels immediately south-east of London Bridge and 1.6 miles east of Charing Cross. It is one of the oldest railway stations in the...

, Cannon Street
Cannon Street station
Cannon Street station, also known as London Cannon Street, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex in the City of London, England. It is built on the site of the medieval Steelyard, the trading base in England of the Hanseatic League...

, Charing Cross
Charing Cross railway station
Charing Cross railway station, also known as London Charing Cross, is a central London railway terminus in the City of Westminster, England. It is one of 18 stations managed by Network Rail, and trains serving it are operated by Southeastern...

, Euston
Euston railway station
Euston railway station, also known as London Euston, is a central London railway terminus in the London Borough of Camden. It is the sixth busiest rail terminal in London . It is one of 18 railway stations managed by Network Rail, and is the southern terminus of the West Coast Main Line...

, Fenchurch Street
Fenchurch Street railway station
Fenchurch Street railway station, also known as London Fenchurch Street, is a central London railway terminus in the south eastern corner of the City of London, England. The station is one of the smallest terminals in London in terms of platforms and one of the most intensively operated...

, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street
Liverpool Street station
Liverpool Street railway station, also known as London Liverpool Street or simply Liverpool Street, is both a central London railway terminus and a connected London Underground station in the north-eastern corner of the City of London, England...

, Paddington
Paddington station
Paddington railway station, also known as London Paddington, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex.The site is a historic one, having served as the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. Much of the current mainline station dates...

, St Pancras
St Pancras railway station
St Pancras railway station, also known as London St Pancras and since 2007 as St Pancras International, is a central London railway terminus celebrated for its Victorian architecture. The Grade I listed building stands on Euston Road in St Pancras, London Borough of Camden, between the...

, Victoria
Victoria station (London)
Victoria station, also known as London Victoria, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex. It is named after nearby Victoria Street and not Queen Victoria. It is the second busiest railway terminus in London after Waterloo, and includes an air terminal for passengers...

 and Waterloo
Waterloo station
Waterloo station, also known as London Waterloo, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex. The station is owned and operated by Network Rail and is close to the South Bank of the River Thames, and in Travelcard Zone 1....

. The company also operates Birmingham New Street
Birmingham New Street Station
Birmingham New Street is the main railway station serving Birmingham, England, located in the city centre. It is an important hub for the British railway system, being served by a number of important long-distance and cross-country lines, including the Birmingham loop of the West Coast Main Line,...

, Edinburgh Waverley
Edinburgh Waverley railway station
Edinburgh Waverley railway station is the main railway station in the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Covering an area of over 25 acres in the centre of the city, it is the second-largest main line railway station in the United Kingdom in terms of area, the largest being...

, Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport railway station
Gatwick Airport station is the railway station at London Gatwick Airport that provides a direct rail connection to London 43 km away. The station platforms are located directly below the airport’s South Terminal, and the ticket office is adjacent to that terminal’s concourse...

, Glasgow Central, Leeds City
Leeds City railway station
Leeds railway station is the mainline railway station serving the city centre of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England...

, Liverpool Lime Street
Liverpool Lime Street railway station
Liverpool Lime Street is a railway station serving the city centre of Liverpool, England. The station lies on a branch of the West Coast Main Line from London Euston, and on the Wirral Line of the Merseyrail network...

 and Manchester Piccadilly
Manchester Piccadilly station
Manchester Piccadilly is the principal railway station in Manchester, England. It serves intercity routes to London Euston, Birmingham New Street, South Wales, the south coast of England, Edinburgh and Glasgow Central, and routes throughout northern England...

.

Training facilities

Network Rail has several training and development sites around Britain. These include sites in Newcastle
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

, Peterborough, Derby, Leeds, Watford, Walsall
Walsall
Walsall is a large industrial town in the West Midlands of England. It is located northwest of Birmingham and east of Wolverhampton. Historically a part of Staffordshire, Walsall is a component area of the West Midlands conurbation and part of the Black Country.Walsall is the administrative...

 and Larbert
Larbert
Larbert is a small town in the Falkirk council area of Scotland. The town lies in the Forth Valley above the River Carron which flows from the west. Larbert is 3 miles from the shoreline of the Firth of Forth and 2.5 miles northwest of Falkirk, the main town in the area...

 which provide refresher courses, and train staff in new equipment. Advanced Apprentice Scheme trainees are trained at HMS Sultan in Gosport within the whole the first year and over seven 2 week periods (throughout their second and third year) of their apprenticeship, using a combination of Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 facilities and a specially installed training centre. Network Rail bought a residential centre from Cable and Wireless in the Westwood Business Centre near Coventry
Coventry
Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

 for leadership development. The company and other industry partners such as Grant Rail and Balfour Beatty, also operate a Foundation Degree in conjunction with Sheffield Hallam University.

In 2008, Network Rail piloted its first qualification in "track engineering". It has been given permission to develop courses equivalent to GCSE and A-levels.

Telecoms assets

Network Rail operates various essential telecommunication circuits for signalling and electrification control systems, train radio systems, lineside communications, level crossing CCTV, station information and security systems as well as more general IT and business telephony needs. The fixed bearer network infrastructure comprises transmission systems and telephone exchanges linked by a fibre optic and copper cable network that is located mainly within trackside troughing routes on the former British Rail Telecommunications
British Rail Telecommunications
In May 1837 William Fothergill Cooke and Professor Charles Wheatstone entered into a partnership, and on 10th June patented a five-needle telegraph for which five wires were necessary. The telegraph worked by deflecting any two of the needles at the same time to point to any one of 20 letters on...

 network. (It is the largest private telecoms network in the UK.)

Network Rail operates several analogue radio networks that support mobile communication applications for drivers and lineside workers which consist of base stations, antenna systems and control equipment. The National Radio Network (NRN) was developed specifically for the operational railway; it provides radio coverage for 98% of the rail network through 500 base stations and 21 radio exchanges. The Radio Electronic Token Block RETB system is based on similar technology as the NRN and ORN but provides data communication for signalling token exchange as well as voice communication.

Fixed communication at trackside is provided by telephone. These are primarily provided for signallers’ to communicate with train-crew, via telephones mounted on signal-posts, and with the public through telephones located at level crossings.

GSM-R
GSM-R
GSM-R, Global System for Mobile Communications - Railway or GSM-Railway is an international wireless communications standard for railway communication and applications. A sub-system of European Rail Traffic Management System , it is used for communication between train and railway regulation...

 radio systems are being introduced across Europe under EU legislation for interoperability. In the UK, Network Rail have established a stakeholders board with cross industry representation to drive the UK implementation of GSM-R to replace the National Radio Network (NRN) and Cab Secure Radio (CSR) systems currently in use.

Rolling stock

Network Rail operates a large variety of DMUs, locomotives and rolling stock to perform safety checks and maintenance (this fleet is not be confused with the combined rolling stock assets of ATOC
Association of Train Operating Companies
The Association of Train Operating Companies is a body which represents 24 train operating companies that provide passenger railway services on the privatised British railway system. It owns the National Rail brand. The Association is an unincorporated association owned by its members...

 members who work in combination as National Rail
National Rail
National Rail is a title used by the Association of Train Operating Companies as a generic term to define the passenger rail services operated in Great Britain...

). As well as the multiple units and locomotives detailed below Network Rail own and operate a large stock of rolling stock for particular testing duties and track maintenance. Network Rail also hire freight locomotives from DB Schenker
DB Schenker Rail (UK)
DB Schenker Rail , before 2009 known as English, Welsh and Scottish Railway is a British rail freight company. EWS was established by a consortium led by Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation in 1996 by acquisition of five of the six freight companies created by the privatisation of British...

 and Freightliner among others to operate engineers trains at weekends. DRS
Direct Rail Services
Direct Rail Services is a freight operating company created by British Nuclear Fuels Limited. The company started rail operations in 1995 using five heavily refurbished Class 20/3 diesel locomotives. Since then it has expanded greatly, and has acquired many more locomotives, most bought...

 provide a number of locomotives to power test trains around the network when Network Rail locomotives are unavailable or busy elsewhere. Drivers of Network Rail rolling stock are hired from DB Schenker.
Class Image Type Introduced Fleet Size
Class 31
British Rail Class 31
The British Rail Class 31 diesel locomotives, also known as the Brush Type 2 and originally as Class 30, were built by Brush Traction from 1957-62.- Description :...

Diesel Locomotive
Diesel locomotive
A diesel locomotive is a type of railroad locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine, a reciprocating engine operating on the Diesel cycle as invented by Dr. Rudolf Diesel...

1957–62 4
Class 57
British Rail Class 57
The Class 57 diesel locomotives were introduced by Brush Traction between 1997-2004. They are rebuilds, with reconditioned EMD engines, of former Class 47 locomotives, originally introduced in 1964-5.- Description :...

Diesel Locomotive
Diesel locomotive
A diesel locomotive is a type of railroad locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine, a reciprocating engine operating on the Diesel cycle as invented by Dr. Rudolf Diesel...

1964-65
Rebuilt: 1997–2004
6
Class 97
British Rail Class 97
British Rail reserved the TOPS Class 97 designation for departmental locomotives, which were used for special or engineering duties. They were therefore of several different classes, lumped together for numbering purposes. Some locomotives were converted from redundant engines, whilst others were...

Diesel Locomotive
Diesel locomotive
A diesel locomotive is a type of railroad locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine, a reciprocating engine operating on the Diesel cycle as invented by Dr. Rudolf Diesel...

1960–65 4
Class 117
British Rail Class 117
The British Rail Class 117 diesel multiple units were built by Pressed Steel from 1959 to 1961.When first introduced, these three-car units were all based with the similar Class 121 single carriage units on British Railway's Western Region for suburban work out of London Paddington, as well as...

Diesel Multiple Unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

1961 1
Class 121
British Rail Class 121
Sixteen Class 121 single-car driving motor vehicles were built from 1960, numbered 55020–55035. These were supplemented by ten trailer vehicles, numbered 56280–56289 . They had a top speed of 70 mph, with slam-doors, and vacuum brakes...

Diesel Multiple Unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

1960 7
Class 122
British Rail Class 122
The British Rail Class 122 diesel mechanical multiple units were built by Gloucester RC&W in 1958. Twenty single-car driving motor vehicles, called "Bubble Cars", were built, numbered 55000–55019...

Diesel Multiple Unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

1958 1(in traffic)
NMT High Speed Train
InterCity 125
The InterCity 125 was the brand name of British Rail's High Speed Train fleet. The InterCity 125 train is made up of two power cars, one at each end of a fixed formation of Mark 3 carriages, and is capable of , making the train the fastest diesel-powered locomotive in regular service in the...

2003
(built between 1975 & 1982)
1
MPV
British Rail MPV
The Multiple-purpose Vehicle or MPV is a purpose-built departmental derivative of a diesel multiple unit. Twenty-five two-car units were ordered by Railtrack to enable it to replace its varied collection of ageing departmental vehicles, many of which were converted from redundant passenger...

Diesel Multiple Unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

46 (some stored)
Class 950
British Rail Class 950
The British Rail Class 950 is a diesel multiple unit that was purpose-built for departmental use as a track assessment unit. It was built in 1987 using the same bodyshell as the Class 150/1 "Sprinter" units that were built from 1985-1986....

Diesel Multiple Unit
Diesel multiple unit
A diesel multiple unit or DMU is a multiple unit train consisting of multiple carriages powered by one or more on-board diesel engines. They may also be referred to as a railcar or railmotor, depending on country.-Design:...

1987 1
DBSO
Driving Brake Standard Open
A Driving Brake Standard Open or DBSO is a type of railway carriage, converted to operate as a control car. Fourteen such vehicles, numbered 9701 to 9714, were converted from Mk. 2F Brake Standard Open carriages. Modifications included adding a driving cab and TDM equipment to allow a locomotive...

Control car 2007
(converted from BSO
Brake Standard Open
A Brake Standard Open or BSO, is a type of railway carriage used by British Rail. Both Mark 1 and Mark 2 types were built. Each consists of a standard class open passenger saloon with a centre aisle, a guard's compartment with hand brake and a lockable luggage compartment.A number of Mark 1 and...

 in 1979, and 1985-86)
5

The GRIP process

For investment projects, as opposed to routine maintenance, Network Rail has developed an eight-stage process designed to minimise and mitigate risks. This is known as the Governance for Railway Investment Projects (GRIP). The stages are as follows:
  1. output definition;
  2. pre-feasibility;
  3. option selection;
  4. single option development;
  5. detailed design;
  6. construction, test and commission;
  7. scheme hand back;
  8. project close out.


Each stage delivers an agreed set of outputs to defined quality criteria.

This has now been replaced with a standard called Governance to Railway Investment Projects (GRIP) and is manadatory for use on all Network Rail projects.

Control periods

For financial and other planning purposes, Network Rail works within 5-year "Control Periods", each one beginning on 1 April and ending on 31 March to coincide with the financial reporting year. These periods were inherited from Railtrack, so that the earlier ones are retrospective, and not necessarily of 5 years duration. They are as follows:
  • Control Period 1 (CP1): 1996–2001
  • Control Period 2 (CP2): 2001–2004
  • Control Period 3 (CP3): 2004–2009
  • Control Period 4 (CP4): 2009–2014
  • Control Period 5 (CP5): 2014–2019
  • Control Period 6 (CP6): 2019–2024
  • Control Period 7 (CP7): 2024–2029
  • Control Period 8 (CP8): 2029–2034

Route plans

Network Rail regularly publishes a Strategic Business Plan detailing their policies, processes and plans, as well as financial expenditure and other data. The most recent complete business plan was published in April 2007. Within these plans the rail network is divided into 26 Strategic Routes, with a Route Plan for each being published annually. The Business Plan and the Route plans were updated in 2008 and the Route plans again in 2009.

Each Route Plan covers a number of railway lines usually defined by geographical area and each route is further subdivided into Strategic Route Sections (SRS) and given an SRS number and name. The plans also detail the geography of routes, stations, major junctions, capacity constraints and other issues and provide data on freight gauge, electrification
Railway electrification system
A railway electrification system supplies electrical energy to railway locomotives and multiple units as well as trams so that they can operate without having an on-board prime mover. There are several different electrification systems in use throughout the world...

, linespeed, number of tracks, capacity and other information. The plans also detail the expected future demand and development of each route, their predicted expenditure and their maintenance and investment requirements.

The Route Plans and respective areas are organised as in the table below.
Route number Area title Primary route Historical line names within Route
Route 1  Kent London – Ashford
Route 2  Brighton Main Line and Sussex London – Brighton
Route 3  South West Main Line London – Southampton
Route 4  Wessex Routes Basingstoke – Salisbury – Bradford-on-Avon
Route 5
Network Rail Route 5 (West Anglia)
Strategic Route 5 - West Anglia is the designation given by Network Rail to a grouping of railway lines in the East of England that encompasses the West Anglia Main Line and its various branch lines...

 
West Anglia London – Cambridge – Kings Lynn Breckland Line
Breckland Line
The Breckland Line runs from Cambridge in Cambridgeshire to Norwich in Norfolk, in East Anglia, England. It is so called because it runs through the Breckland region of Norfolk. The line also passes through Thetford Forest. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 5, SRS 05.09 and part...

 • Ely to Peterborough Line
Ely to Peterborough Line
The Ely to Peterborough Line is a railway line in England, linking East Anglia to the Midlands. It is a part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 5, SRS 05.07 and is classified as a secondary line.-Service:...

 • Fen Line
Fen Line
The Fen Line is a railway in the United Kingdom that runs between the cities of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire and King's Lynn, Norfolk; the line is so called because it runs through The Fens. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 5 and comprises SRS 05.06 and part of 05.05...

 • Hertford East Branch Line
Hertford East Branch Line
The Hertford East Branch Line is a railway line in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. It runs between and . The line follows the route of the Lea Valley; serving many towns and villages along the way...

 • Hitchin-Cambridge Line • Ipswich to Ely Line
Ipswich to Ely Line
The Ipswich to Ely Line is a railway line linking East Anglia to the English Midlands via Ely. There is also a branch line to . Passenger services are operated by National Express East Anglia...

 • Lea Valley Lines
Lea Valley Lines
The Lea Valley Lines are three commuter lines and two branches in North East London, so named because they run along the valley of the River Lea...

 • West Anglia Main Line
West Anglia Main Line
The West Anglia Main Line is one of the two main lines which run from London Liverpool Street, the other being the Great Eastern Main Line. It runs generally north from London, through the towns of Cheshunt, Broxbourne, Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Audley End station before reaching Cambridge,...

Route 6
Network Rail Route 6 (North London Line and Thameside)
Strategic Route 6 - North London Line and Thameside is the designation given by Network Rail to a grouping of railway lines in Greater London and the East of England region that encompasses the London, Tilbury and Southend Line and overground commuter lines within London...

 
North London Line and Thameside London – Southend Gospel Oak to Barking Line
Gospel Oak to Barking line
The Gospel Oak – Barking Line is a railway line in north and east London which connects Gospel Oak in North London and Barking in East London as part of the London Overground network. It is sometimes known as the Goblin , although this is a nickname rather than an official title...

 • London, Tilbury and Southend Line • North London Line
North London Line
The North London Line is a railway line which passes through the inner suburbs of north London, England. Its route is a rough semicircle from the south west to the north east, avoiding central London. The line is owned and maintained by Network Rail...

Route 7
Network Rail Route 7 (Great Eastern)
Strategic Route 7 - Great Eastern is the designation given by Network Rail to a grouping of railway lines in the East of England that encompasses the Great Eastern Main Line and its various branch lines...

 
Great Eastern London – Norwich Bittern Line
Bittern Line
The Bittern Line is a railway line from Norwich to Cromer then Sheringham in Norfolk, England. It is one of the most scenic in the East of England traversing the Norfolk Broads on its route to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the North Norfolk Coast. The line is part of the Network Rail...

 • Braintree Branch Line
Braintree Branch Line
The Braintree Branch Line is a branch line from Witham to Braintree in Essex, England.The line diverges from the Great Eastern Main Line at Witham. Passenger services are currently operated by National Express East Anglia...

 • Crouch Valley Line
Crouch Valley Line
The Crouch Valley Line is a branch line from Wickford to Southminster in Essex. It is usually called the Southminster Branch by users of the line, although that is no longer its official name...

 • East Suffolk Line
East Suffolk Line
The East Suffolk Line is an un-electrified secondary railway line running between Ipswich and Lowestoft in Suffolk, England. The traffic along the route consists of passenger services operated by National Express East Anglia, while nuclear flask trains for the Sizewell nuclear power stations are...

 • Felixstowe Branch Line
Felixstowe Branch Line
The Felixstowe Branch Line is a railway line from Ipswich to Felixstowe in Suffolk. The line follows the East Suffolk Line from Ipswich to Westerfield, and then diverges to the south. Passenger services are operated by National Express East Anglia...

 • Gainsborough Line • Great Eastern Main Line
Great Eastern Main Line
The Great Eastern Main Line is a 212 Kilometre major railway line of the British railway system, which connects Liverpool Street in the City of London with destinations in east London and the East of England, including Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and several coastal resorts such as...

 • Mayflower Line
Mayflower Line
The Mayflower Line is a branch railway line from Manningtree to Harwich in the county of Essex in England. Passenger services are operated by National Express East Anglia...

 • Romford to Upminster Line
Romford to Upminster Line
The Romford to Upminster Line or Upminster Branch Line is a branch line between Romford and Upminster in the London Borough of Havering. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 7, SRS 07.09, and is classified as a rural line...

 • Shenfield to Southend Line
Shenfield to Southend Line
The Shenfield to Southend Line is a railway line from Southend-on-Sea to Shenfield in Essex. Almost all trains continue through to London Liverpool Street along the Great Eastern Main Line...

 • Sunshine Coast Line • Wherry Lines
Wherry Lines
The Wherry Lines are railway lines in England, from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. These lines pass through The Broads. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 7, SRS 07.11 and is classified as a rural line...

Route 8  East Coast Main Line London – Edinburgh East Coast Main Line
East Coast Main Line
The East Coast Main Line is a long electrified high-speed railway link between London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Wakefield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Newcastle and Edinburgh...

 • Hertford Loop Line
Hertford Loop Line
The Hertford Loop Line is a branch of the East Coast Main Line, providing a commuter route to London for Hertford and other Hertfordshire towns...

Route 9  North East Routes Middlesbrough – Sunderland – Carlisle
Route 10  North Trans-Pennine, North and West Yorkshire Hull – Leeds – Manchester
Route 11  South Trans-Pennine, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Chesterfield – Sheffield – Grimsby
Route 12  Reading to Penzance Reading – Penzance
Route 13  Great Western Main Line London – Swansea, Bristol – Birmingham
Route 14  South and Central Wales and Borders Newport – Crewe, Swansea – Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock & Fishguard Harbour
Route 15  South Wales Valleys Cardiff – valleys
Route 16  Chilterns London – Aylesbury
Route 17  West Midlands Coventry – Birmingham – Wolverhampton
Route 18  West Coast Main Line London – Glasgow Abbey Line • Marston Vale Line
Marston Vale Line
The Marston Vale Line is the railway line from Bletchley to Bedford in England. It is one of two surviving passenger-carrying sections of the "Varsity Line" between Oxford and Cambridge....

 • West Coast Main Line
West Coast Main Line
The West Coast Main Line is the busiest mixed-traffic railway route in Britain, being the country's most important rail backbone in terms of population served. Fast, long-distance inter-city passenger services are provided between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and the...

Route 19  Midland Main Line and East Midlands London – Nottingham
Route 20  North West Urban Liverpool – Manchester
Route 21  Merseyrail Liverpool
Route 22  North Wales and Borders Holyhead – Crewe
Route 23
Network Rail Route 23 (North West Rural)
Network Rail's strategic route 23 encompasses mainly the English rural railway lines of Lancashire and Cumbria. It excludes the part of the West Coast Main Line that bisects the counties...

 
North West Rural Carlisle – Skipton
Route 24  East of Scotland Glasgow – Edinburgh – Aberdeen
Route 25  Highlands Perth – Inverness – Aberdeen
Route 26  Strathclyde and South West Scotland Glasgow – Carstairs

Formal governance structure

The company is accountable to a body of members through its corporate constitution, to its commercial train operator customers through its contracts with them (the contracts are subject to regulatory oversight), and to the public interest through the statutory powers of the Office of Rail Regulation
Office of Rail Regulation
The Office of Rail Regulation is a statutory board which is the combined economic and safety regulatory authority for Great Britain's railway network. It was established on 5 July 2004 by the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, replacing the Rail Regulator...

.

Since Network Rail does not have shareholders, its members hold the Board of Directors to account for their management of the business. Members are appointed by an independent panel and serve a three-year term. They have a number of statutory rights and duties which include attending annual general meetings, receiving the Annual Report and Accounts, and approving the appointment or re-appointment of Network Rail’s directors. Members have a duty to act in the best interests of the company without personal bias. They receive no payments other than travel expenses.

Members have clearly defined and limited powers; they do not run the company. Setting the strategic direction and the day-to-day management of Network Rail is the responsibility of the company’s Board of Directors. That direction must be consistent with the regulatory jurisdiction of the Office of Rail Regulation, and with the requirements of its contracts. The Office of Rail Regulation in turn operates within the overall transport policy set by the UK Department for Transport
Department for Transport
In the United Kingdom, the Department for Transport is the government department responsible for the English transport network and a limited number of transport matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which are not devolved...

 and the Scottish Government, including as to what the Government wants the railway industry to achieve and how much money the Government is prepared to put into the industry. This means that the degree of Government influence and control over the company is higher than it was before these enlargements of the powers and role of the Government were introduced by the Railways Act 2005
Railways Act 2005
The Railways Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom concerning the regulatory structure for railways in the United Kingdom.- Overview :...

.

At any one time there are around 100 members in total, drawn from a wide range of industry partners and members of the public. There are two general categories of membership, industry members comprising any organisation holding a licence to operate on the railway or preferred bidder for a railway franchise, and public members who are drawn from the wider stakeholder community.

Monitoring Network Rail's performance

The Office of Rail Regulation monitors Network Rail's performance on a continuous basis against targets established by the regulatory authority in the most recent access charges review (2003), against obligations in the company's network licence and against forecasts in its own business plan. If performance is poor,the company will face criticism and possible enforcement action from its commercial customers (under their contracts) and from the Office of Rail Regulation (enforcing the company's network licence). It may also be criticised by its members in general meeting.

In the end of year report 2005/06, the ORR reported on train performance that:
"Train Performance: Good progress has been made in improving punctuality.
The Public Performance Measure (PPM) of 86.4% in the year is up from
85.5% (refreshed) at the end of the third quarter (Q3) and up from 83.6% last
year."

Railway Industry Planning Group (RIPG)

The Railway Industry Planning Group (RIPG), chaired by Network Rail, has as its purpose railway industry input into the structure and development of the national railway strategic planning processes. Its members are drawn from railway funders, operators and users, and the group meets quarterly to consider:
  • rail industry liaison with regional and local government
  • Regional (and Scotland and Wales) Planning Assessments
  • Route Utilisation Strategies
  • specification of passenger operator franchises
  • High Level Output Specifications and Network Rail’s Strategic Business Plan
  • Network Rail’s Business Planning Criteria, Business Plan and Route Plans.

Executive directors

Title Person Salary Details
Chief Executive David Higgins
David Higgins (businessman)
Sir David Hartmann Higgins , is an Australian businessman, the Chief Executive of Network Rail and the former Chief Executive of the London 2012 Summer Olympics Delivery Authority....

£613,000 Iain Coucher announced on 17 June 2010 that he would be stepping down from the post. He remained in place until October 2010. Peter Henderson acted as Interim Chief Executive prior to David Higgins starting on 1 February 2011.
Director, Asset Management Peter Henderson £440,000
Group Finance Director Patrick Butcher £350,000
Operations & Customer Services Robin Gisby £330,000
Infrastructure Projects Simon Kirby £330,000
Planning and Regulation Paul Plummer £310,000

Other directors

Title Person Details
Group Company Secretary Hazel Walker  
Group Director, Government and Corporate Affairs TBC  
Director, Safety & Compliance Julian Lindfield  

Private versus public sector status controversy

In 2001 the then Labour government denied that it had nationalised the rail network in order to prevent Railtrack's shareholders claiming, via the European Court of Human Rights, the four-year average price of Railtrack, about £10 per share. Instead, Railtrack's shareholders were given only £2.60. The commentator Simon Jenkins
Simon Jenkins
Sir Simon David Jenkins is a British newspaper columnist and author, and since November 2008 has been chairman of the National Trust. He currently writes columns for both The Guardian and London's Evening Standard, and was previously a commentator for The Times, which he edited from 1990 to 1992...

, writing in The Times, reported that Gordon Brown's aide, (now Lady) Shriti Vadera e-mailed Stephen Byers in July 2001 asking: "Can we engineer the solution through insolvency ... and therefore avoid compensation under the Human Rights Act
Human Rights Act 1998
The Human Rights Act 1998 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which received Royal Assent on 9 November 1998, and mostly came into force on 2 October 2000. Its aim is to "give further effect" in UK law to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights...

?"

Railtrack
Railtrack
Railtrack was a group of companies that owned the track, signalling, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and all but a handful of the stations of the British railway system from its formation in April 1994 until 2002...

 plc was placed into railway administration under the Railways Act 1993 on 7 October 2001, following an application to the High Court by the then Transport Secretary
Secretary of State for Transport
The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

, Stephen Byers. It was reported on 23 November 2001 that a further £3.5 billion might be needed to keep the national railway network running, a sum disputed by Ernst & Young
Ernst & Young
Ernst & Young is one of the largest professional services networks in the world and one of the "Big Four" accountancy firms, along with Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers ....

, the administrators. To get Railtrack out of administration, the government had to go back to the High Court and present evidence that the company was no longer insolvent. The principal reason given by the government to the court for this assertion was the decision of the rail regulator
Rail Regulator
The Rail Regulator was a statutory office, created with effect from 1 December 1993 by section 1 of the Railways Act 1993, for the independent economic regulation of the British railway industry....

 - announced on 22 September 2002 - to carry out an interim review of the company's finances, with the potential to advance significant additional sums to the company. The High Court accepted that the company was not insolvent, and the railway administration order was discharged on 2 October 2002.

There has been considerable controversy over whether Network Rail is a public-sector or a private-sector entity. Although officially a private sector organisation, the fact that its debts are underwritten by the government, and it is partially funded by the government, has led to its being described as being "nationalisation in all but name". It is also claimed that the government is keen for Network Rail not to be classified as a public-sector organisation, as this would mean that the company's enormous debts (over £20 billion) would be counted as public expenditure liabilities.

The National Audit Office
National Audit Office (United Kingdom)
The National Audit Office is an independent Parliamentary body in the United Kingdom which is responsible for auditing central government departments, government agencies and non-departmental public bodies...

 and the Statistics Commission
Statistics Commission
The Statistics Commission was a non-departmental public body established in June 2000 by the UK Government to oversee the work of the Office for National Statistics1,2. Its chairman was Professor David Rhind who succeeded the first chairman, Sir John Kingman, in May 20033. Although it was...

 both agree that Network Rail is a state-owned company. The Office for National Statistics
Office for National Statistics
The Office for National Statistics is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority, a non-ministerial department which reports directly to the Parliament of the United Kingdom.- Overview :...

 has repeatedly clashed with the National Audit Office and the Statistics Commission over whether the successor to Railtrack should be considered a private company – as the ONS believes – or included on the Government's books, as the NAO argues. The NAO says that as the Government is bearing the risk that would normally be borne by equity capital, and as it can appoint, through the SRA, a director who cannot be removed by members, Network Rail is effectively a subsidiary of the Government-controlled SRA. The Statistics Commission, set up by the Government to ensure that statistics are trustworthy, is known to question the basis of the ONS judgment that Government guarantees given to Network Rail are unlikely to be called in.

Even though the UK Office for National Statistics insists that it is correct to have classified Network Rail as in the private sector the company is occasionally described as being in the public sector:
  • On 17 October 2002 in the House of Lords, government minister Lord McIntosh of Haringey
    Andrew McIntosh, Baron McIntosh of Haringey
    Andrew Robert McIntosh, Baron McIntosh of Haringey PC was a British Labour politician and last elected Principal of the Working Men's College....

    , in answering a question, said: "The Question is about the West Coast main line
    West Coast Main Line
    The West Coast Main Line is the busiest mixed-traffic railway route in Britain, being the country's most important rail backbone in terms of population served. Fast, long-distance inter-city passenger services are provided between London, the West Midlands, the North West, North Wales and the...

    , and it is true that the cost has escalated from a little over £2 billion to £10 billion. That shows incredible lack of control and forethought by Railtrack. We must get a grip of it, and we are getting a grip of it. However, we were able to get a grip of it only after it went into administration and we were able to take the company back again."
  • On 24 October 2005 in the House of Commons, former Secretary of State for Transport
    Secretary of State for Transport
    The Secretary of State for Transport is the member of the cabinet responsible for the British Department for Transport. The role has had a high turnover as new appointments are blamed for the failures of decades of their predecessors...

     Stephen Byers
    Stephen Byers
    Stephen John Byers is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament for North Tyneside from 1997 to 2010; in the previous parliament, from 1992, he represented Wallsend...

     MP said: "... I make no apology for ... unwinding the Tory privatisation that was Railtrack." And on 1 February 2007, then Leader of the House of Commons
    Leader of the House of Commons
    The Leader of the House of Commons is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom who is responsible for arranging government business in the House of Commons...

     (Jack Straw
    Jack Straw
    Jack Straw , British politician.Jack Straw may also refer to:* Jack Straw , English* "Jack Straw" , 1971 song by the Grateful Dead* Jack Straw by W...

    ) said: "... rail privatisation ... was one of the most catastrophic reorganisations, which we have had to resolve, and having done that— [ Interruption. ] The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) may mock, but we brought Network Rail into public ownership..."
  • On 6 June 2008 during BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4
    BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

    's programme Any Questions?
    Any Questions?
    Any Questions? is a topical debate radio programme in the United Kingdom.-Format:It is broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on Friday evenings and repeated on Saturday afternoons, when it is followed by a phone-in response programme, Any Answers?, previously a postal response slot...

    , the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
    Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
    The Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills was a Cabinet minister in the United Kingdom, heading the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills . The post was created on 28 June 2007 from parts of the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Trade and...

     John Denham MP was asked about Network Rail's directors' bonuses; referring to the company, he said: "...it was a very good thing David that it was brought back effectively into public ownership after the total shambles that was created by dividing the railway up and privatising it."

Allegations of misuse of public funds and discrimination

In 2009 it was reported that Network Rail had been accused of spending millions of pounds paying compensation to staff in cases of alleged sexual or racial discrimination. Former chief executive Iain Coucher had also been accused of financial impropriety. Whilst an internal investigation by Network Rail vetted by its auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing, a further independent inquiry is to be chaired by Anthony White QC resulting from an agreement between Network Rail and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association
Transport Salaried Staffs' Association
The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association is a trade union for "white collar" workers in the transport industry in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland...

.

New national headquarters site

A new national headquarters site is currently under construction in Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes , sometimes abbreviated MK, is a large town in Buckinghamshire, in the south east of England, about north-west of London. It is the administrative centre of the Borough of Milton Keynes...

, adjacent to Milton Keynes Central railway station
Milton Keynes Central railway station
Milton Keynes Central railway station serves Central Milton Keynes and the surrounding area of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. The station is located on the West Coast Main Line between the stations of Bletchley and Wolverton, both of which are also within Milton Keynes. The station is served by...

. The three buildings on the site are planned to open in summer 2012 and to accommodate 3,000 people.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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