A programme of international fact-finding visits was conducted during the summer and autumn of 2007 to a number of railway administrations in Europe, North America and Australia. This study tour was part of our work on the 2008 Periodic Review, which will determine the regulated outputs and access charges for the five year control period (CP4) between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2014.
To be able to determine these charges we need to understand the costs that Network Rail expects to incur to run its business, and we need to do this with the widest possible knowledge of how other railways are operated and managed. The specific aim of this visit programme was therefore to seek information to help us in our assessment of Network Rail's expenditure plans and enable us to reach a robust determination of the expenditure required to maintain and renew its infrastructure assets in an efficient and economic manner that is in accordance with best asset management practices.
We believe that there are many opportunities for Network Rail to investigate, compare itself, challenge its existing practices and consider adopting ideas and initiatives from other railways and the wider supply industry. Network Rail faces many of the same challenges as the comparator railways we visited, and therefore if it is to become a truly world class business, it must be active in seeking to identify and implement best practice. Constructive interaction with other railway organisations is an essential element in that process, and it needs to last well beyond the confines of the 2008 periodic review. Indeed, it should be a continuous process.
We will be continuing to discuss the lessons set out in this report with Network Rail, and to seek further evidence of an open and learning approach within the pursuit of appropriate best practice for Britain's railways.
The summary report documents the main challenges that we identified for Network Rail and provides the introduction to the supporting suite of individual visit reports accessible below, each of which contains much more detailed information and commentary. The report on our visit to German Railways will be added shortly.