A safer, more efficient and better performing railway

18 May 2016

Content archived on 29 September 2023

Archive date
07 July 2021

John LarkinsonRail passengers and freight customers want a safe, reliable and efficient railway. Our job is to support the rail industry to deliver this, so that every pound of the public’s money is well spent.

Network Rail employs more than 30,000 people, and spends around £8bn a year on running our railway network. This periodic review, known as ‘PR18’, will play a key role in determining what Network Rail should deliver between 2019 and 2024, as well as the funding and incentives needed to do this.

Our aim for the review is to support a more efficient, safer and better performing railway, delivering value for passengers, freight customers and taxpayers into the next decade and beyond. The rail industry has changed considerably since our last periodic review in 2013, and our approach is changing to reflect this.

We are consulting on proposals:

  • To regulate Network Rail in a different way, looking at each route separately and encouraging a greater role for customers.
  • On a new approach to monitoring how the national network is operated – Network Rail’s system operator role.
  • To improve the measures of performance and delivery so they are more relevant for passengers and freight customers.

Regulating Network Rail at a route-level will support changes already underway in the company and help focus attention on the local needs of its customers. Devolving more decision-making power to its routes has created an opportunity for better conversations with passengers, local businesses, train companies, and freight users about what’s being delivered today and expectations for the future.

This approach will help Network Rail work more efficiently. In the past, efficiency targets have often been set at the top of the company. In future, local routes will be more in the lead, with more robust plans designed by the people who know the area.

Alongside this shift in focus to Network Rail’s routes, we intend to adopt a new approach in regulating Network Rail’s system operator role. This is its timetabling, capacity management, analysis and long-term planning functions, all of which are central to the company achieving better performance. This role ‘joins up’ the work of the routes.

We will improve how Network Rail’s performance is measured. The industry is already looking at how best to align the measurement of operational performance with what really matters to passengers, and we will agree a better approach as part of our review.

Finally, we will facilitate greater political devolution of transport decision-making, for example by giving governments and regional bodies more flexibility in how major enhancement projects are delivered.

This is an exciting and important opportunity for our railways. But alongside our input as the regulator, we need the ideas and involvement of passengers and businesses, as well as Network Rail, watchdogs, train operators, governments and other stakeholders, to this consultation and throughout the review.

Please therefore tell us what you think. You can email responses to or alternatively, use our online form to submit your comments by 5pm on 10 August 2016.

The first PR18 consultation is available to read.

Browse our website to find out more about PR18.

Please subscribe to our PR18 email alerts service to receive updates and news on the review.