Rail 754: Safety cannot be taken as a given

July 28th, 2014 Rail Magazine no comments
On entering the reception area of the airy new offices of Network Rail in King’s Cross, one is confronted with a notice about the company being an organisation that has safety as its first consideration. Then the poor receptionist has to read a short script about how to ensure that no risks are taken while on the premises. When I suggested to Mark Carne, Network Rail’s new boss, that perhaps making ...

Crazy merry go round goes on

July 8th, 2014 Christian Says 1 comment
The news that Network Rail is paying a £53.1m fine for underperformance on punctuality highlights, yet again, the daft nature of the industry structure and the way the regulatory regime was set up for a privatised Railtrack, not a publicly-owned Network Rail. The attempts by the ORR and the government to soften the blow do nothing to hide the fact that the whole process is plain daft. The BBC was told ...

Network Rail points the way

May 6th, 2014 Christian Says 5 comments
Network Rail's chairman, Richard Parry-Jones, has just said something which is of such significance that I wonder if it will mark the change of mood in the business sector. Network Rail has taken the sensible step of scrapping its bonus structure and replacing it with a system that allows for a maximum top up of just 20 per cent, compared with a staggering 160 per cent. Moreover, Mr Parry-Jones has suggested ...

Rail 739 Back to the past as Network Rail comes back into the fold

February 8th, 2014 Rail Magazine 3 comments
So it’s welcome back British Rail. I jest somewhat, but permit me to enjoy a few laughs at the sight of the government being forced to take Network Rail’s £30bn debt on to its books. The announcement by the Office of National Statistics that new European rules mean that the debt can no longer be considered as being in the private sector is, in fact, a long overdue adjustment to ...

Railways are back on the government’s books

December 30th, 2013 Christian Says 2 comments
      The news, slipped out just before Xmas, that Network Rail’s debt will simply be lumped in with the government’s in September 2014, is an occasion for a bit of gloating as well as of concern. This received surprisingly little attention even though my sources say that the Department for Transport was taken aback and is extremely discomfited by the decision. The arrangement by which the debt - now £30bn, soon to ...

The failings of the 1993 Railways Act still haunt us today

December 15th, 2013 House 5 comments
On the face of it, the Railways Act has been a great success. The railways are booming with record numbers of passengers, a massive investment programme and an excellent recent safety performance. However, it is over the question of whether there is any causal relationship between privatisation and the boom in passenger numbers that the argument still rages. In what way has private sector involvement contibuted to this success story. There ...

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