ORR is open for business: Facilitating new investment in the rail network

20 March 2018

By James Dunshea, Enhancement Projects.

James Dunshea, Enhancement ProjectsA recent theme in rail has been attracting new and sustainable sources of third party investment - money from any public or private organisation other than Network Rail and governments.

To this end, Network Rail carried out the Hansford Review and set out how it will address the findings in control period 6 (CP6).

At the Office of Rail and Road, we’ve always seen and been supportive of the need for additional sources of investment in the network beyond that specified by government. Our Investment Framework, first published in 2006, sets out guidance for delivering and financing projects outside the periodic review process. To date, numerous organisations have used the Framework to invest hundreds of millions in the national network, including local authorities improving station facilities, train operators enhancing signalling equipment or commercial developers investing in new retail opportunities.

What we’re doing

In response to stakeholder feedback and guidance from the Secretary of State, we are:

  • Launching a new railway investment web section. This summarises information, policy and guidance from across ORR simply. It covers all major regulatory issues that investors will need to consider, spanning health and safety, access, interoperability, the Investment Framework and licensing. We will continue to update this page in response to feedback.
  • Providing a single point of initial contact for investor queries. You can now email: investment@orr.gov.uk.
  • Publishing updated guidance on how investors can secure access rights to the national network.
  • Commissioning an independent review of Network Rail’s Industry Risk and Network Rail Fee Funds. This review is examining two funds associated with the costs and risks of carrying out third-party work on the network. The funds are necessary to cover both Network Rail’s costs and mutual liabilities related to third-party investment. However aspects of the funds’ governance, value and draw-down have been cited by investors as a barrier to progression. The review, due to complete in mid-May will suggest ways the funds might be optimised in future to encourage and facilitate investment whilst protecting both parties.
  • Updating the Investment Framework. To ensure the guidance remains relevant and reflects changes to the way railways are funded in CP6. In addition, any changes Network Rail makes to its template contracts for third-parties will be subject to ORR approval.

In summary, we’re looking to make sure that our guidance for investors is easy to find and up to date and that our regulatory role and investor’s obligations are clearly set out.