Network Rail is set to be stripped of its full control of railways in England’s as part of a major government shake-up.
Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, has announced that he intends to bring track and train operations back together, handing train operators greater influence over the work that takes place on the rail lines throughout the country.
At present, the UK’s track infrastructure is solely owned and maintained by Network Rail, which is publicly owned, with trains and services operated by private train operating companies such as Virgin and Southern.
However, Mr Grayling has called for a change, with both track and trains to be managed by “one joined-up team of people”.
Under the changes, Network Rail and train operating staff will be integrated into operating teams for renewal and maintenance work.
It is not yet clear how much control Network Rail will have over the tracks – as is the make-up of the teams.
Mr Grayling is also expected to reveal plans to create a organisation, separate to Network Rail, called East West Rail.
This will oversee the construction and operation of a rebuilt multi-million-pound train line linking Oxford to Cambridge.
This will be the first fully integrated rail operation created since the end of British Rail in 1994, and will be tasked with securing private sector design, build and management of the route.
The move will be a step away from the way major enhancement projects, which are usually delivered on the UK’s rail lines through Network Rail’s Infrastructure Projects Division.
Last month, the chancellor Philip Hammond gave £100m to the speed up the delivery of the western section of East West Rail between Cambridge and Bedford, and a further £10m to develop a preferred route from Bedford to Oxford.
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne has welcomed the changes, saying more needed to be done to align incentives between the organisation and train operating companies.