ORR to undertake rigorous assessment of Network Rail’s plan for Britain’s railways

8 January 2013

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) will undertake a rigorous assessment of Network Rail's plan for the railways between 2014-19, which is published today, to ensure it delivers best possible safety, performance and value for Britain.

The Strategic Business Plan (SBP) sets out how Network Rail intends to deliver the new projects and performance targets set and significantly funded by the Secretary of State for Transport and Scottish Ministers in their high-level output specifications, published in the summer 2012, and how much it considers the plans would cost.

The SBP is a crucial document for ORR's periodic review (PR13) – the regulator's assessment of what Network Rail must achieve during the five years from 2014 to 2019, the money it needs to do so, and the incentives needed to encourage delivery and outperformance. ORR's detailed assessment of the plan will focus on:

  • Ensuring passengers and freight customers are placed at the heart of the railways, maximising the delivery of capacity, performance and safety against the right set of demanding targets;
  • Network Rail's plans to improve efficiency and reduce costs, with benefits passed on to customers and taxpayers;
  • How Network Rail plans to collaborate closely with the rest of the rail industry and suppliers, at national and route level, in delivering industry-led improvements;
  • How Network Rail's plans are integrated with wider rail industry plans, and that new projects to increase rail capacity are right for its customers and provide best value; and
  • Whether Network Rail has clear proposals to improve the management of its assets, such as bridges, tunnels and major structures.

As part of its assessment ORR is today seeking public views on the plan to inform ORR's draft conclusions, which will be published in June 2013.

Office of Rail Regulation Chief Executive, Richard Price, said:

Ministers have shown huge faith in what the railways can add to Britain's society and economy, committing to around £20bn worth of public money at a time when there is little money to go around. Key to maintaining rail's success will be openly justifying this significant commitment of public money. Taxpayers significantly fund the railways, and have every right see where this money is being spent.
Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan demonstrates the company's ambition to deliver an even better railway for Britain. ORR will now scrutinise the plan on behalf of rail users and taxpayers to ensure every penny is made to count and that all those involved in delivering the plan work together to achieve the highest levels of efficiency and best possible value for money. Our analysis, informed by public views, will focus on ensuring Network Rail delivers the right plans, in the right ways, at the right cost.

Notes to editors

  1. ORR is the independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain's railways.
  2. The regulator is seeking comments pdf icon PDF, 184 Kb on Network Rail's Strategic Business Plan until 19 February 2013.
  3. The regulator's objective for PR13 is to protect the interests of customers and taxpayers by ensuring the determination enables Network Rail and its industry partners to deliver or exceed all the specified outcome and output requirements safely and sustainably, at the most efficient levels possible comparable with the best railways in the world by the end of the control period. Read more information about PR13.
  4. Looking ahead in the PR13 process:
    • June 2013 – publication and consultation on ORR's draft determination.
    • October 2013 – publication of ORR's final determination.