Getting the go-ahead for CP6

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) published its draft outlook for CP6 last month. This completed an important step in establishing what Network Rail will ultimately have to spend on maintaining and renewing the railway between 2019 and 2024.

The SBP have included £47.8 billion to operate, maintain, renew and enhance the network in CP6. The budget has been arranged to encourage reliability and efficiency, although Network Rail’s main focus is the major projects within the industry.

Network Rail’s plans have now been reviewed by the ORR and a lists of amendments have been stipulated in order for the CP6 plans to go ahead. Amendments have included additional £1 billion in renewals and extra £80 million for works including level crossing and safety campaigns.

The peaks and troughs of the work distribution over the five year period has caused harm to contractors in the past control periods. Within the conversations between the two organisations one of the major flaws within the industry has been highlighted for improvement. The ORR have stressed to Network Rail that spreading the funding over the whole five year period is critical to the stabilisation of the rail industry.

The differences between the previous control periods to CP6 will be the way it manages in a new route structure. The network is now split into eight geographical routes, each with its own budget and performance targets.

The ORR have suggested these targets need reviewing for the Wessex, South East and Anglia to “ensure they are robust and set consistently with other routes”. It has also recommended distributing £0.9 billion contingency fund to the three route’s allowing them to determine how it should be spent.

What happens next?

Network Rail have till the 31st August to amend their plans and submit to the ORR. The ORR’s final determination will be published in October. This will be the skeleton framework on which Network Rail will use this to produce its final delivery plan for CP6.

Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said: “We welcome the regulator’s general support for our plans for Britain’s railways, delivering a more reliable service that passengers can rely on. It has accepted the majority of our plans, strongly supporting the changes we have been making including our focus on bringing track and train closer together, supporting devolution, the creation of the System Operator and incorporating customer-focused scorecards into its monitoring during CP6"

Published: 31st July 2018