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Network Rail
Type Company limited by guarantee
Founded 2002
Headquarters London, England, UK
Key people Rick Haythornthwaite, Non Executive Chairman
Iain Coucher Chief Executive
Peter Henderson – Group Infrastructure Director
Patrick Butcher – Group Finance Director
Industry Railway infrastructure provision
Revenue £6.1 Billion (2009)[1]
Employees 33,000

Network Rail owns and operates Britain’s rail infrastructure.[2] It is a British "not for dividend" company limited by guarantee whose principal asset is Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, a company limited by shares.

Network Rail's main customers are the separate and fully private sector train operating companies (TOCs), responsible for passenger transport, and freight operating companies (FOCs), who provide train services on the infrastructure that the company owns and maintains. Network Rail does not run passenger services directly; ultimately both Network Rail and the train operating companies have the shared responsibility of delivering train services to the travelling public.



Network Rail owns the infrastructure, including the railway tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and most stations, but not the passenger or commercial freight rolling stock. Network Rail took over ownership by buying Railtrack plc, which was in "railway administration", from Railtrack Group plc for £500 million. The purchase was completed on 3 October 2002.

The company's headquarters is at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG after moving on 26 August 2008 from 40 Melton Street, Euston, London. The current Chairman is Rick Haythornthwaite who took over from Sir Ian McAllister. Sir Ian McAllister was also Chairman of the Carbon Trust and formerly Managing Director of Ford Motor Company Limited. Its chief executive is Iain Coucher. Its executive board is small.[citation needed]

On 3 October 2008, Sir Ian announced that he will not stand for reelection to continue as chairman of Network Rail. He has held this position for six years. In making the announcement, Sir Ian noted that as Network Rail moves to a "new phase in its development," it is appropriate that there be a new chairman to lead it there.[3]

Following an initial period in which Network Rail established itself and demonstrated its competence in addressing the principal challenges of improving asset condition, reducing unit costs and tackling delay, the Government’s Rail Review in 2004 White Paper said that Network Rail should be given responsibility for whole-industry performance reporting, timetable development, specification of small and medium network enhancements, and the delivery of route-specific utilisation strategies (RUS). Some of these are functions which Network Rail already had; others – such as the obligation to devise route utilisation strategies – were transferred to Network Rail from the Strategic Rail Authority, a non-departmental public body, part of the UK government. (The SRA was subsequently abolished.)

Whilst owning over 2500 railway stations, it only manages 18 of the biggest and busiest railway stations in the UK, with the remaining stations being managed by the various train operating companies (TOC).

Network Rail also secured a 15-year lease on Square One in Manchester, moving and recruiting 800 staff to one of Manchester's largest refurbished office spaces.[4]

Network Rail should not be confused with National Rail. National Rail is a brand used to explain and promote a network of passenger railway services.

The two networks are very similar, but not exactly the same. Most Network Rail lines also carry freight traffic, some lines are freight only, and a few lines that carry passenger traffic are not part of the National Rail network (for example High Speed 1, Heathrow Express, Tyne And Wear Metro System and the London Underground). Conversely some National Rail services operate over track that is not part of the Network Rail network (for example where they run on London Underground track).

Governance structure and accountability

Formal governance structure

The company is accountable to a body of members through its corporate constitution,[5] to its commercial train operator customers through its contracts with them (the contracts are subject to regulatory oversight), and to the public interest through the statutory powers of the Office of Rail Regulation.[6]

Since Network Rail does not have shareholders, its members hold the Board of Directors to account for their management of the business. Members are appointed by an independent panel and serve a three-year term. They have a number of statutory rights and duties which include attending annual general meetings, receiving the Annual Report and Accounts, and approving the appointment or re-appointment of Network Rail’s directors. Members have a duty to act in the best interests of the company without personal bias. They receive no payments other than travel expenses.

Members have clearly defined and limited powers; they do not run the company. Setting the strategic direction and the day-to-day management of Network Rail is the responsibility of the company’s Board of Directors. That direction must be consistent with the regulatory jurisdiction of the Office of Rail Regulation, and with the requirements of its contracts. The Office of Rail Regulation in turn operates within the overall transport policy set by the UK Department for Transport and the Scottish Government, including as to what the Government wants the railway industry to achieve and how much money the Government is prepared to put into the industry. This means that the degree of Government influence and control over the company is higher than it was before these enlargements of the powers and role of the Government were introduced by the Railways Act 2005.

At any one time there are around 100 members in total, drawn from a wide range of industry partners and members of the public. There are two general categories of membership, industry members comprising any organisation holding a licence to operate on the railway or preferred bidder for a railway franchise, and public members who are drawn from the wider stakeholder community.

Monitoring Network Rail's performance

The Office of Rail Regulation monitors Network Rail's performance on a continuous basis against targets established by the regulatory authority in the most recent access charges review (2003), against obligations in the company's network licence and against forecasts in its own business plan. If performance is poor,the company will face criticism and possible enforcement action from its commercial customers (under their contracts) and from the Office of Rail Regulation (enforcing the company's network licence). It may also be criticised by its members in general meeting.

In the end of year report 2005/06, the ORR reported on train performance that: "Train Performance: Good progress has been made in improving punctuality. The Public Performance Measure (PPM) of 86.4% in the year is up from 85.5% (refreshed) at the end of the third quarter (Q3) and up from 83.6% last year."[7]

Profit 1.For the first time in Network Rail's history a profit was made this year- allowing money to be reinvested into the network. 2.Train punctuality is at a seven year high. 3.Passenger numbers are at an all time high

Informal governance groups

Railway Industry Planning Group (RIPG)

The Railway Industry Planning Group (RIPG), chaired by Network Rail, has as its purpose railway industry input into the structure and development of the national railway strategic planning processes. Its members are drawn from railway funders, operators and users, and the group meets quarterly to consider:

  • rail industry liaison with regional and local government
  • Regional (and Scotland and Wales) Planning Assessments
  • Route Utilisation Strategies
  • specification of passenger operator franchises
  • High Level Output Specifications and Network Rail’s Strategic Business Plan
  • Network Rail’s Business Planning Criteria, Business Plan and Route Plans.

Network Rail and other organisations' websites and documentation mentions various other groups not always well identified.



Infrastructure maintenance

In October 2003 Network Rail announced that it would take over all infrastructure maintenance work from private contractors, following concerns about the quality of work carried out by certain private firms, and spiralling costs.

February 2004 saw the opening of an operations centre at Waterloo station in London, operated jointly by Network Rail and the train operating company South West Trains. This was the first full collaboration of its kind since privatisation, and it is regarded as a model for other areas of the network, with a further six integrated Network Rail + TOC Control Centres having opened since then, at Blackfriars, Croydon (Leading Control for First Capital Connect), Swindon, Birmingham, Glasgow and, most recently, Liverpool Street and South Wales based in Cardiff Canton.

Track renewal, the ongoing modernisation of the railway network by replacing track and signalling, continues to be carried out by private engineering firms under contract. The biggest renewals project is the multi-billion-pound upgrade of the London to Glasgow West Coast Main Line, which was completed in 2008.

Network Rail depot at Norwood Junction station, Croydon

Network Rail initially sub-contracted much of the work and the site to private Infrastructure Maintenance Companies such as Carillion and First Engineering. Other sub-contractors are used on site for specialist work or additional labour. These include:

  • Sky Blue
  • Balfour Beatty
  • Laboursite
  • BCL
  • Atkins (Atkins Rail)
  • McGinleys

Since 2003 Network Rail has been building up significant in-house engineering skills, including funding of apprenticeship and foundation degree schemes. Network Rail reports significant savings resulting from the initial transfers of work away from contracting companies. Additional contracts were taken back by Network Rail after the serious accident at Potters Bar and other accidents at Rotherham and King's Cross led Jarvis to pull out of the track repair business. Shortly after this, and due to other failures by maintenance companies, Network Rail took control of many more maintenance duties.
Telecomms maintenance came full circle in April 2009 with the bringing in house of the staff of Thales Telecom Services Ltd (formerly British Rail Telecommunications (BRT)).

High-pressure water jets clearing leaves at Taunton

In 2006, Network Rail made public a high-tech plan to combat the effects of slippery rail. This plan involves the use of satellites for tracking trouble areas, water-jetting trains and crews using railhead scrubbers, sand sticks and a substance called Natrusolve, which dissolves leaf mulch.[8]

All workers working on, near or trackside have to undergo a Personal Track Safety assessment (re-assessed every two years) Network Rail workers undergo an assessment every year as part of AITL (Assessment In The Line). The AITL requires each worker to go through questions on a computer based program on all the competencies held.

The safety record of the company has been marred by the Grayrigg derailment, when a Virgin express crashed at Grayrigg in Cumbria on 23 February 2007. The train was derailed by a faulty set of points. Network Rail have admitted responsibility for the accident. The RAIB investigation is ongoing, and criminal charges may be brought.

In September 2007 it was announced that the number of track renewal contractors will be reduced to four from the current six. These are now

  • AmeySECO
  • Balfour Beatty
  • First Engineering Ltd.
  • Jarvis PLC

Six to Four Announcement


Network Rail owns more than 2500 railway stations on the national rail network. Management and operation of most of them is carried out mostly by the principal train operating company serving that station, however sometimes the train operating company does not serve the station for example Hinckley is managed but not served by East Midlands Trains. Network Rail manages and operates 18 of the largest and busiest stations directly.[9] The Network Rail-managed stations are:

Many track safety initiatives have been introduced in the time Network Rail has been responsible for this area. The latest, announced in December 2008, known as "All Orange", states that all track personnel must not only wear orange hi-vis waistcoats or jackets, but must also wear orange hi-vis trousers at all times when working on or near the track.

This new safety ruling came into force on 1 January 2009 for maintenance and property workers and on 1 April 2009 for infrastructure and investment sites.[11]

Training facilities

Network Rail's Coventry leadership development centre, Westwood

Network Rail has several training and development sites around Britain. These include sites in Newcastle, Peterborough, Derby, Watford and Larbert which provide refresher courses, and train staff in new equipment. Advanced Apprentice Scheme trainees are trained at HMS Sultan in Gosport within the whole the first year and over seven 2 week periods (throughout their second and third year) of their apprenticeship, using a combination of Royal Navy facilities and a specially installed training centre.[citation needed] Network Rail bought a residential centre from Cable and Wireless in the Westwood Business Centre near Coventry for leadership development. The company and other industry partners such as Grant Rail and Balfour Beatty, also operate a Foundation Degree in conjunction with Sheffield Hallam University.

In 2008, Network rail will pilot its first qualification in "track engineering". It has been given permission to develop courses equivalent to GCSE and A-levels.[5]

Telecoms assets

This section describes the assets that comprise Network Rail’s telecommunications systems and networks.

The fixed bearer network is at the core of railway communications and thus is vital to the operation of the railway. It provides essential circuits for signalling and electrification control systems, train radio systems, lineside communications, level crossing CCTV, customer information systems as well as more general IT and business telephony needs. The fixed bearer network infrastructure comprises transmission systems and telephone exchanges linked by a fibre optic and copper cable network that is located mainly within trackside troughing routes.

Network Rail has several analogue radio networks that support mobile communication applications for drivers and lineside workers. These radio networks comprise base stations, antenna systems and control equipment.

The National Radio Network (NRN) was developed specifically for the operational railway; it provides radio coverage for 98% of the rail network through 500 base stations and 21 radio exchanges. The NRN offers full access to the British Rail Telecommunications telephone network; public switched telephone network (PSTN) dialling, including international, is also available. It can provide 'dedicated' open channels on talk-through mode for incident management and an override priority facility to ensure that all emergency calls are immediately connected to the railway's Train Control Offices (TCO) and Electrical Control Rooms (ECR).The NRN and ORN are based on analogue radio technology and provide a high level of coverage throughout the railway network for mobile communication at the trackside. The ORN offers facilities for driver emergency communication with the local train control office.

The RETB system is based on similar technology as the NRN and ORN but provides data communication for signalling token exchange as well as voice communication. Secure communication between drivers and signallers is provided by the Cab Secure Radio (CSR) systems located in various parts of the country. This application of analogue radio technology is deigned to offer complete radio coverage at the trackside within the limits of its deployment.

Fixed communication at the trackside is provided by lineside communication systems. These systems are primarily provided for signallers’ communication with drivers and the public through telephones located on signal posts and at level crossings. Signal Post Telephones (SPTs) and other lineside phones are linked to telephone concentrators at the signal box. Special self-monitoring systems (PETS) are also provided for high-risk level crossings. CCTV systems are provided on platforms where driver only operation train services are operated and at some stations with sub-surface platforms. These self-contained systems comprise of cameras, monitors, cabling and control equipment. Voice recorders are also classed as telecoms assets.

Asset information

This section gives a brief insight into the origin of Network Rail’s telecom assets and why they are in the condition they are today.

In the late 1960s the National Telecoms Plan (NTP) was launched which brought about a centrally managed (BRHQ) project to install a nationwide co-axial cable based 4 MHz system of transmission bearer services for voice and on-line real time data networks. This was completed in 1972.

The fixed network as we know it today was installed piecemeal as part of BR’s electrification and signalling projects between 1972 and 1993. Fault reporting is localised and system failure is generally only uncovered as a consequence of customer complaint. The fixed telecommunications network consists of a wide variety of mostly old technology, some of which is obsolete.

As a result of the privatisation process, a significant proportion of the fixed telecommunications network is now provided through lease agreements with Global Crossing and since April 2009 it is maintained by Network Rail.

Much of the network is now life expired and its renewal is the responsibility of Network Rail. The earliest CSR system was installed in Strathclyde in 1984 and other systems exist in East Anglia, Southern, GW and Midlands Zones and on Merseyrail. Typical lives for such systems are given as 10 or 15 years and thus the Strathclyde system can already be considered to be life expired. Other early systems are approaching life expiration and with some parts now obsolete there is a significant risk and maintenance liability present. This can manifest itself in operational difficulties and high operation costs.

The NRN dates back to the 1980s, although base stations have been added as recently as 1999. Studies show the system is life expired, but life could be extended until 2008. The obsolescence of critical parts and the lack of further mobiles mean that costly reverse engineering is now required to keep the system going.

SPT concentrators exist in all but the smallest of signal boxes. A variety of technologies are in existence and obsolescence and system support problems drive renewal. Modern system life is estimated at 10–15 years although some systems over 25 years old are still in operation.


GSM-R radio systems are being introduced across Europe under EU legislation for interoperability. In the UK, Network Rail have established a stakeholders board with cross industry representation to drive the UK implementation of GSM-R to replace the National Radio Network (NRN) and Cab Secure Radio (CSR) systems currently in use.

Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) are revising the current train to shore radio standard GO/RT3410, and renumbering it as GE/RT8080, and developing a new standard GE/RT8081 that contains requirements that are specific to GSM-R. The Railway Group Standards are being developed to support the European Functional Requirements Specification (FRS), and should be read in conjunction with this document.

There have been two rounds of consultation on these documents, and a final round of consultation is planned for the summer of 2003, with the intention of publishing the standards in December 2003.

The Network Rail National Project for the introduction of GSM-R plans for the radio service to be live nation-wide by 2007, with the current radio systems switched off at the end of 2009. The Fixed Telecomm Network is the backbone for the GSM-R and is built on Alcatel PDH and SDH rings.

A fully-functional GSM-R system trial started on the North Clyde Line in Scotland in 2007. For some years before these trials commenced however, GSM-R has been in use for voice-only purposes (known as the 'Interim Voice Radio System' (IVRS) ) in some locations where axle counters are used for train detection, for example parts of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) between Crewe and Wembley. Britain’s GSM-R network should be fully operational by 2013 at a cost of £1.2 billion. This cost though does not include the WCML.

The WCML transmission equipment is Marconi and is maintained by Telent.

IP / Ethernet Network

In addition to SDH transmission, an IP / Ethernet network is soon to be constructed in the Central Scotland area initially to support Long Line Public Address systems in Strathclyde and Remote Condition Monitoring on the express Edinburgh to Glasgow route. This network (core and access) runs over spare FTN optical fibres at Gigabit speeds and is housed in FTN buildings where it shares rack space and power. Ethernet Extenders using G.SHDSL are proposed for reaching lineside assets over telecoms copper cables. The initial deployment between Glasgow and Edinburgh is expected to be completed in July 2009. The network will have significant spare capacity and will be able to support the introduction of additional IP or IPv6 services as required for railway operational purposes.

Roll out

Basically the Network Rail GSM-R system is being rolled out nationally alongside the Fixed Telecom Network (FTN). This will replace the existing CSR, NRN and legacy telecoms system (formally BRT/Racal/Thales/Global Crossing).

This consists of 2500 GSM-R base sites and 11,000miles of fibre optic and copper cable linking together a DWDM SDH digital backbone network, consisting of core nodes, access nodes, switches, etc.

The GSM-R BTS equipment is Nortel, including the MSCs, BSCs, HLR, VLR. The sub-system equipment is Frequentis.

The FTN equipment is Alcatel DWDM with SAFT UPS power systems.

The masts are produced by Abacus Lighting and Francis & Lewis, with antennas by Kathrein. The Relocatable Equipment Building (REBs) are made by Elliott and fitted out by Alan Dick UK Ltd in Scunthorpe (installed with Alcatel access node & Nortel BTS).

The system is being rolled out four ways:

  1. Enabling works – construction of GSM-R base sites, tower build and rigging, collection, delivery and installation of the REB and powering up.
  2. DNO supply – separate contract to get mains power to the site by whatever means.
  3. FTN works – survey, clearance and renewal of the line-side concrete S&T troughing, installation of joint bays, loop bays, break-out boxes, UTXs, track equipment housings (TEH), cable laying (copper, fibre, aluminium screen cable), jointing & splicing, testing.
  4. Installation of Main switches, NOC, TEC, etc.

To date the trial GSM-R system has been rolled out in the Strathclyde area (19 base sites covering 50 km), with the TEC/NOC/Switch at Stoke on Trent. Main switch/HLR/VLR at Didcot, with a fallback at Peterborough. There have been several contracts and schemes awarded to roll out all over the country (Kent, Yorkshire, Birmingham, Walsall, M4 corridor, South Wales, Strathclyde, Dumfries & Galloway).

The first train (390 034 on the 09.15 Manchester Piccadilly service to London Euston) to use GSM-R on the south end of the West Coast Main Line ran on 27 May 2009. This is the first vehicle to run in passenger service with GSM-R outside of the Strathclyde trial. On 2nd Sept 09 the Rugby to Stoke section went live.

As part of the Modular approach being adopted by Network Rail and in conjunction with the new 15m mast policy, a new hinged mast has been developed by street lighting specialist Abacus

Network Rail has fitted out a test train at Derby it purchased for RSV testing of the GSM-R network. The train is formed from ex Gatwick Express stock. At a cost of £5.9 million, this custom-built machine known as the RSV (Radio Signal Verification) train, has already started monitoring the Newport Synergy scheme and the Cambrian Line.

The Cambrian ERTMSPwllheli to Harlech Rehearsal commenced on 13 February 2010 and successfully finished on 18 February 2010. The driver familiarisation and practical handling stage of the Rehearsal has provided an excellent opportunity to monitor the use of GSM-R voice in operation on this route.

The first train departed Pwllheli at 0853hrs in ERTMS Level 2 Operation with GSM-R voice being used as the only means of communication between the driver and the signaller.

Safety recommendations

GSM-R addresses the relevant recommendations from several accident inquiries:

GSM-R will be the bearer for the ERTMS signalling being introduced in the next few years.


Network rail operate a large variety of DMUs, locomotives and rolling stock to perform safety checks and maintenance. As well as the multiple units and locomotives detailed below Network Rail own and operate a large stock of rolling stock for particular testing duties and track maintenance. Network Rail also hire freight locomotives from EWS and Freightliner among others to operate engineers trains at weekends. DRS provide a number of locomotives to power test trains around the network when Network Rail locomotives are unavailable or busy elsewhere.

Class Image Type Introduced Fleet Size
Class 31 31454 stabled at Westbury.JPG Diesel Locomotive 1957–62 4
Class 97/3 Muir of Ord railway station in 1988.jpg Diesel Locomotive 1960–65 4
Class 117 "Heritage Unit" - - 678384.jpg Diesel Multiple Unit 1961 1
Class 121 960011 At NRM York.jpg Diesel Multiple Unit 1960 7
Class 122 British Rail 960015 at Crewe Diesel Depot.jpg Diesel Multiple Unit 1958 1(in traffic)
NMT 43014...10-02-06...DWL.JPG High Speed Train 2003 (built between 1975 & 1982) 1
MPV DR98917 and DR98967 at Doncaster Works.JPG Multiple Unit 46 (some stored)
Class 950 Engineers Train at Aberystwyth.jpg Diesel Multiple Unit 1987 1


The GRIP process

For investment projects, as opposed to routine maintenance, Network Rail has developed an eight-stage process designed to minimise and mitigate risks. This is known as the Guide to Railway Investment Projects (GRIP). The stages are as follows:

  1. output definition;
  2. pre-feasibility;
  3. option selection;
  4. single option selection;
  5. detailed design;
  6. construction, test and commission;
  7. scheme hand back;
  8. project close out.

Each stage delivers an agreed set of outputs to defined quality criteria.

Control periods

For financial and other planning purposes, Network Rail works within 5-year "Control Periods", each one beginning on 1 April and ending on 31 March to coincide with the financial reporting year. These periods were inherited from Railtrack, so that the earlier ones are retrospective, and not necessarily of 5 years duration. They are as follows:

  • Control Period 1 (CP1): 1996–2001
  • Control Period 2 (CP2): 2001–2004
  • Control Period 3 (CP3): 2004–2009
  • Control Period 4 (CP4): 2009–2014
  • Control Period 5 (CP5): 2014–2019

Route plans

Network Rail regularly publishes a Strategic Business Plan detailing their policies, processes and plans, as well as financial expenditure and other data. The most recent complete business plan was published in April 2007.[12] Within these plans the rail network is divided into 26 Strategic Routes, with a Route Plan for each being published annually. The Business Plan and the Route plans were updated in 2008[13] and the Route plans again in 2009.[14]

Each Route Plan covers a number of railway lines usually defined by geographical area and each route is further subdivided into Strategic Route Sections (SRS) and given an SRS number and name. The plans also detail the geography of routes, stations, major junctions, capacity constraints and other issues and provide data on freight gauge, electrification, linespeed, number of tracks, capacity and other information. The plans also detail the expected future demand and development of each route, their predicted expenditure and their maintenance and investment requirements.[15]

The Route Plans and respective areas are organised as in the table below.[14]

Route number Area title Primary route Historical line names within Route
Route 1 Kent London – Ashford
Route 2 Brighton Main Line and Sussex London – Brighton
Route 3 South West Main Line London – Southampton
Route 4 Wessex Routes Basingstoke – Salisbury – Bradford-on-Avon
Route 5 West Anglia London – Cambridge – Kings Lynn Breckland LineEly to Peterborough LineFen LineHertford East Branch LineHitchin-Cambridge LineIpswich to Ely LineLea Valley LinesWest Anglia Main Line
Route 6 North London Line and Thameside London – Southend Gospel Oak to Barking LineLondon, Tilbury and Southend LineNorth London Line
Route 7 Great Eastern London – Norwich Bittern LineBraintree Branch LineCrouch Valley LineEast Suffolk LineFelixstowe Branch LineGainsborough LineGreat Eastern Main LineMayflower LineRomford to Upminster LineShenfield to Southend LineSunshine Coast LineWherry Lines
Route 8 East Coast Main Line London – Edinburgh East Coast Main LineHertford Loop Line
Route 9 North East Routes Middlesbrough – Sunderland – Carlisle
Route 10 North Trans-Pennine, North and West Yorkshire Hull – Leeds – Manchester
Route 11 South Trans-Pennine, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Chesterfield – Sheffield – Grimsby
Route 12 Reading to Penzance Reading – Penzance
Route 13 Great Western Main Line London – Swansea, Bristol – Birmingham
Route 14 South and Central Wales and Borders Newport – Crewe, Swansea – Milford Haven
Route 15 South Wales Valleys Cardiff – valleys
Route 16 Chilterns London – Aylesbury
Route 17 West Midlands Coventry – Birmingham – Wolverhampton
Route 18 West Coast Main Line London – Glasgow Abbey LineMarston Vale Line‎West Coast Main Line
Route 19 Midland Main Line and East Midlands London – Nottingham
Route 20 North West Urban Liverpool – Manchester
Route 21 Merseyrail Liverpool
Route 22 North Wales and Borders Holyhead – Crewe
Route 23 North West Rural Carlisle – Skipton
Route 24 East of Scotland Glasgow – Edinburgh – Aberdeen
Route 25 Highlands Perth – Inverness – Aberdeen
Route 26 Strathclyde and South West Scotland Glasgow – Carstairs

Private versus public sector status controversy

Britain's Labour government denies that they have nationalised the rail network in order to prevent Railtrack's shareholders claiming the four year average price of Railtrack, about £10 per share, via the European Court of Human Rights. Instead, Railtrack's shareholders have been given only £2.60p. Simon Jenkins, former editor of the Times, wrote in a Times article about the Railtrack High Court case and Gordon Brown's aide, (now Lady) Shriti Vadera. “Can we engineer the solution through insolvency,” she e-mails Stephen Byers in July, “and therefore avoid compensation under the Human Rights Act.”[16][17]

There has been considerable controversy over whether Network Rail is a public-sector or a private-sector entity. Although officially a private sector organisation, the fact that its debts are underwritten by the government, and it is partially funded by the government, has led to it being described as being "nationalisation in all but name".[18] It is also claimed that the government is keen for Network Rail not to be classified as a public sector organisation, as this would mean that the company's enormous debts (over £20 billion) would be counted as public expenditure liabilities.

The National Audit Office and the Statistics Commission both agree that Network Rail is a state owned company. The Office for National Statistics has repeatedly clashed with the National Audit Office and the Statistics Commission over whether the successor to Railtrack should be considered a private company – as the ONS believes – or included on the Government's books, as the NAO argues. The NAO says that as the Government is bearing the risk that would normally be borne by equity capital, and as it can appoint, through the SRA, a director who cannot be removed by members, Network Rail is effectively a subsidiary of the Government-controlled SRA. The Statistics Commission, set up by the Government to ensure that statistics are trustworthy, is known to question the basis of the ONS judgment that Government guarantees given to Network Rail are unlikely to be called in.[19][20]

The UK Office for National Statistics insists that it is correct to have classified Network Rail as in the private sector. Nethertheless some mistakes in referencing the company as a public sector entity are occasionally made; on 17 October 2002 in the House of Lords government minister Lord McIntosh of Haringey, in answering a question, said: "The Question is about the West Coast main line, and it is true that the cost has escalated from a little over £2 billion to £10 billion. That shows incredible lack of control and forethought by Railtrack. We must get a grip of it, and we are getting a grip of it. However, we were able to get a grip of it only after it went into administration and we were able to take the company back again."[21] In the House of Commons on 24 October 2005, the former Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Byers MP said: "... I make no apology for ... unwinding the Tory privatisation that was Railtrack."[22] And on 1 February 2007, the Leader of the House of Commons (Jack Straw) said: "... rail privatisation ... was one of the most catastrophic reorganisations, which we have had to resolve, and having done that— [ Interruption. ] The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) may mock, but we brought Network Rail into public ownership..."[23] On BBC Radio 4's programme Any Questions? on 6 June 2008, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills John Denham MP was asked about Network Rail's directors' bonuses; referring to the company, he said: " was a very good thing David that it was brought back effectively into public ownership after the total shambles that was created by dividing the railway up and privatising it."[24]


Executive directors

Title Person Salary[25] Details
Chief Executive Iain Coucher £613,000 On 12 December 2006, John Armitt announced that he would retire as Chief Executive of Network Rail at the end of July 2007. Iain Coucher was the previous deputy chief executive.[26][27]
Group Infrastructure Director Peter Henderson £440,000
Group Finance Director Patrick Butcher £350,000
Operations & Customer Services Robin Gisby £330,000
Infrastructure Investment Simon Kirby £330,000
Planning and Regulation Paul Plummer[28] £310,000

Other directors

Title Person Details
Group Company Secretary Hazel Walker[28]  
Group Director, Government and Corporate Affairs Victoria Pender[28]  
Director, Safety & Compliance Julian Lindfield[29]  


  1. ^ Report & Accounts 2009
  2. ^ Accessed on 25 May 2009
  3. ^ "Network Rail boss stepping down". BBC News. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2008. 
  4. ^’s_big_deal
  5. ^ [1] Network Rail
  6. ^ [2] Office of Rail Regulation
  7. ^ Network Rail Monitor, Executive Summary
  8. ^ "Leaves on line cause rail delays". 
  9. ^ "Stations Run by Network Rail". 
  10. ^ National Rail
  11. ^ "Track Safety=RailStaff". December 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2008. 
  12. ^ "Business Plan 2007". Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  13. ^ "Strategic Business Plan Update 2008". Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  14. ^ a b "Route Plans". Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  15. ^ "Network Rail Route Plans Introduction". Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  16. ^ [3] Guardian
  17. ^ [4]Times
  18. ^
  19. ^ David Litterick (1 November 2002). "Statisticians wrangle over Network Rail accounting treatment". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  20. ^ David Litterick; Alistair Osborne (19 November 2002). "Statisticians wrangle over Network Rail accounting treatment". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  21. ^ House of Lords, Official Report, 17 October 2002, Cols 953–956
  22. ^ House of Commons, Official Report, 24 October 2005, Col 66
  23. ^ House of Commons, Official Report, 1 February 2007, Col 363
  24. ^ "BBC - Radio 4 - Transcript: Any Questions? 6 June 2008". BBC. 6 June 2008. Retrieved 19 November 2009. 
  25. ^ "Executive Directors' reward package" (PDF). Network Rail Infrastructure Limited Annual Report and Accounts 2009. Network Rail. 31 March 2009. p. 30. Retrieved 16 August 2009. 
  26. ^ "Network Rail chief set to retire". BBC. 2006-12-12. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  27. ^ Network Rail. "John Armitt to retire as Chief Executive. Iain Coucher, his current Deputy is to succeed him". Press release. Retrieved 2006-12-12. 
  28. ^ a b c Network Rail website
  29. ^ – Track Safety – PLSG (Projects Safety Leadership Group)

External links

Simple English





Network Rail

Type Company limited by guarantee
Founded 2002
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people Sir Ian McAllister, Chairman
Iain Coucher Chief Executive
Peter Henderson – Group Infrastructure Director
Ron Henderson - Group Finance Director
Industry Railway infrastructure provision
Revenue £5.8 Billion (2007)[1]
Employees 33,000

Network Rail is a British "not for dividend" company limited by guarantee whose principal asset is Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, a company limited by shares. Network Rail owns and operates the fixed infrastructure assets of the British railway system.


  1. Report & Accounts 2007

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