Network Rail

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Image:Network Rail logo.gif
Network Rail's logo

Network Rail is a British "not for dividend" company limited by guarantee whose principal asset is Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, a company limited by shares. Network Rail Infrastructure Limited is the same legal entity as Railtrack PLC (the company name having been changed in February 2002), and it owns and operates the fixed infrastructure assets of the British railway system.

Thus Network Rail owns the infrastructure itself, railway tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and most stations, but not the rolling stock. Network Rail took over ownership by buying Railtrack plc, which was in "railway administration", for £500 million from Railtrack Group plc. The company UK Headquarters Office is currently based at 40 Melton Street, Euston, London.


[edit] Private sector status

There has always been some considerable controversy over whether Network Rail is a public-sector or a private-sector entity. Government ministers and former ministers appear to try to look both ways on this issue. On the one hand, they need Network Rail to be classified to the private sector to avoid the company's enormous debts (over £20 billion) being counted as public expenditure liabilities. On the other hand, they like the idea that the shareholders have gone and the public perception is one of renationalisation - "renationalisation in all but name" is a common media description of what happened to Railtrack when Network Rail took it over.

The UK Office of National Statistics insists that it is correct to have classified Network Rail as in the private sector, but in Parliament on October 24 2005, former Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Byers MP said that he made "no apology for [his decision to apply for the administration order in respect of Railtrack] and for unwinding the Tory privatisation that was Railtrack" (italics added). Similarly, in October 2002 in the House of Lords government minister Lord McIntosh of Haringey, answering a question about railways on behalf of the Government, said: “The Question is about the West Coast main line, 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.” (Italics added.) (House of Lords, Official Report, 17 October 2002, Cols 953-956)

[edit] Network Rail and National Rail

The term Network Rail should not be confused with the term National Rail. Network Rail is a legal entity responsible for owning and managing the fixed assets of a network of railway lines. National Rail is a brand used to explain and promote a network of passenger railway services.

In terms of geography, the two networks are very similar, but not exactly the same. Most Network Rail lines also carry freight traffic, some lines are freight only, and a few lines that carry passenger traffic are not part of the National Rail network (for example CTRL, Heathrow Express and the London Underground). Conversely some National Rail network services operate in part over track that is not part of the Network Rail network (for example where they run on London Underground-owned track).

[edit] Infrastructure Maintenance

In classical HST pose, the new Network Rail measurement train heads along Dawlish Warren

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. While the company maintained that this was not a step towards renationalisation of the entire network, many commentators saw the move as a sign that the privatisation of the railways was unravelling.

This impression was heightened in February 2004 by the opening of an operations centre at Waterloo station in London, operated jointly by Network Rail and the train operating company South West Trains. This was the first full collaboration of its kind since privatisation, and it is currently 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, Croydon, Swindon, Birmingham, Glasgow and, most recently, Liverpool Street, which was opened by Alistair Darling on 23 February 2005.

Track renewal, the ongoing modernisation of the railway network by replacing track and signalling systems, 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.

Whilst Network Rail has overall responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of Britain's railways, it initially sub-contracted much of the work and the site to private Infrastructure Maintenance Companies such as Carillion Rail and First Engineering. Other sub-contractors are used on site for specialist work or additional labour. These include:

  • Sky Blue
  • Balfour Beatty
  • Laboursite
  • BCL

Since 2003 Network Rail has been building up significant in-house engineering skills, including funding of apprenticeship 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 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.

In 2006, Network Rail made public a high-tech plan to combat the effects of slippery rail. This plan involves ths 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.[1]

All workers working on, near or trackside have to undergo a Personal Track Safety medical.

[edit] 2006 Business Plan

In April 2006, Network Rail published its Business Plan [2] complete with route maps showing the entire network divided between "26 Routes" which in most cases might be more accurately described as geographical areas. They are as follows:

  • Route 1 - Kent
  • Route 2 - Brighton Main Line and Sussex
  • Route 3 - South West Main Line
  • Route 4 - Wessex Routes
  • Route 5 - West Anglia
  • Route 6 - North London Line and Thameside
  • Route 7 - Great Eastern
  • Route 8 - East Coast Main Line
  • Route 9 - North East Routes
  • Route 10 - North Trans-Pennine, North and West Yorkshire
  • Route 11 - South Trans-Pennine, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire
  • Route 12 - Reading to Penzance
  • Route 13 - Great Western Main Line
  • Route 14 - South and Central Wales and Borders
  • Route 15 - South Wales Valleys
  • Route 16 - Chilterns
  • Route 17 - West Midlands
  • Route 18 - West Coast Main Line
  • Route 19 - Midland Main Line and East Midlands
  • Route 20 - North West Urban
  • Route 21 - Merseyrail
  • Route 22 - North Wales and Borders
  • Route 23 - North West Rural
  • Route 24 - East of Scotland
  • Route 25 - Highlands
  • Route 26 - Strathclyde and South West Scotland
The neutrality of this article is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

Critics within the media remain sceptical about NR's long term viability. The company's borrowing has increased from £16bn to £20bn in 2006, and despite the railway as a whole attracting record numbers of passengers, the company remains unable to service anything other than the interest on this debt. Network Rail and the Government argue that the vast sums being borrowed and subsequently spent on the railway are to make up for decades of underinvestment by British Rail, but industry spectators fear that the company will never be able to repay its borrowing, and creditors may force it into administration once again, further fuelling calls for a full-scale renationalisation, which the Government has repeatedly rejected.

[edit] Railway Stations

Network Rail owns almost all railway stations on the National Rail network. Management of most of them is carried out by the principal train operating company serving that station, but 17 of the largest and busiest stations are managed directly by Network Rail. These are:

[edit] Mangement team

John Armitt is CEO of Network Rail, believed by a survey sponsored by the Sunday Times, to be the highest-paid public-sector employee in the UK<ref>,,176-2394025,00.html</ref>. Armitt’s salary and bonus of £878,000 - rising to more than £1m<ref></ref> when pension contributions are included - means that he has overtaken Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail.

[edit] Training and Development

Image:Network rail 30l06.JPG
Network Rail's Coventry training centre

Network Rail have several training and development sites around Britain. These include sites in Newcastle and Larbert which provide refresher courses, and train staff in new equipment. The Advanced Apprentice Scheme trainees are trained at HMS Sultan in Gosport, using Royal Navy facilities. Network Rail also bought a residential centre from Cable and Wireless in the Westwood Business Centre near Coventry for management training.

[edit] References


[edit] External link

fr:Network Rail nl:Network Rail no:Network Rail

Network Rail

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