Network Rail has plans to form alliances with at least half a dozen train operators including Greater Anglia as it looks to work more closely with operators and deliver passenger benefits more quickly. Streamlined decision making and the delivery of a more passenger focused operation at lower cost are at the core of the move.
David Higgins, chief executive, Network Rail, said: “Working more closely with the train operators, with decision making devolved to the front-line and better aligned incentives, will, I believe, bring substantial benefits. The alliances will deliver a better service for passengers and freight users and at lower overall cost to the taxpayer.”
Key principles of the alliance have been agreed, but discussions continue to identify and develop tangible changes that can be made to deliver a better service. Final proposals may also be subject to approval by governments and regulators.
The alliance forms part of the substantial changes underway within the rail industry as Network Rail pushes decision making and accountability from its headquarters to its 10 geographic operating regions and encourages much closer collaboration with train operators to speed up improvements for passengers and freight users alike.
Some of the features of the alliance include:
Network Rail and Greater Anglia will remain separate entities
Employees will continue to have the same employer (with their current terms and conditions)
Each company continues to be ultimately accountable for their own areas of responsibility
The agreements in place commit the companies to working together and to work up specified projects where there is an opportunity for more integrated working and an opportunity to improve the service to passengers or reduce cost. The alliance may look at how stations can be better managed to provide a better service to passengers, how engineering work can be better planned or how improvements to train punctuality can be delivered.
David Higgins concluded: “Demand for our railway continues to grow and we need to work smarter with our rail industry partners if we are to continue with the improvements we have made to services over the last decade. Maintaining high levels of performance on an ever congested network, while investing billions of pounds and cutting costs, is a major challenge for all of us, a challenge that alliances will help to tackle.”
Ruud Haket, managing director of the soon to operate Greater Anglia franchise said: “We welcome the closer working relationships with Network Rail. Greater Anglia has committed to improving customer service and transparency in operational performance. A key part of service delivery will be the provision of operational information for staff and customers to help them make decisions during times of disruption.”