Annual efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail
23 July 2018
This document provides our efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail for 2017-18, the fourth year of control period 5 (CP5), which runs from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2019.
Our annual assessments are intended to help customers, funders and other interested parties gain a better understanding of Network Rail's financial performance compared with the CP5 financial assumptions that we set out in our 2013 periodic review (‘PR13’) determination. Our assessments provide a yearly snapshot based on the best available information. It presents financial information on Great Britain, Scotland, and Wales, as well as Network Rail’s routes. It contains information and commentary on Network Rail's expenditure and its efficiency compared to our PR13 determination, its income, borrowing, debt and regulatory asset base (RAB).
The report highlights:
- The efficiency of Network Rail’s operations, support, maintenance and renewals activities declined by £4m (0.4%) in 2017-18, compounding the £218m (4.4%) decline across the first three years of CP5. Network Rail’s declining efficiency across the first four years of CP5 has been largely due to a £322m decline in renewals efficiency. Network Rail did not undertake £441m of renewals work planned in its budget for 2017-18 and has built up a substantial backlog of work across CP5 that will now need to be caught up in CP6 and beyond. We report on the problems with renewals delivery and efficiency in CP5.
- Network Rail underperformed against its internal budget by £0.1bn in 2017-18 largely because of higher than budgeted Schedule 8 payments for poor train performance and rates for renewals. The level of underperformance has improved compared to the first three years of CP5 (average £0.6bn annual underperformance against budget).
- Significant enhancements have been delivered on budget. Network Rail spent £4.1bn on enhancements in 2017-18, the largest annual investment in rail infrastructure in recent years. This work was delivered for slightly lower (£4m) than budget. Network Rail’s difficulties with its enhancements programme earlier in CP5 resulted in increased budgets and deferred milestones for delivery of schemes. Problems with delivering these enhancements have contributed to problems with delivering planned renewals in CP5.
- Network Rail’s debt increased by £5.5bn to £50.3bn in 2017-18. It has fixed borrowing facilities with the Department for Transport (DfT) for CP5 for its activities in England and Wales, and in Scotland. For England and Wales, Network Rail expects to use all its remaining available borrowing for its planned activities in 2018- 19. The lack of headroom means that the company will have no contingency in the event that income or expenditure outturn worse than planned. In view of Network Rail’s underperformance against its own budget in each year of CP5 to date, we consider that this lack of contingency is risky. In practice, we expect that the company would need either to request additional funds from DfT, or defer further renewals work into CP6, which would exacerbate the declining efficiency of its renewals activities.
- Preparing for control period 6: Because poor planning for CP5 caused a number of the problems with Network Rail’s renewals delivery and efficiency, we challenged the company to demonstrate that it is better prepared to deliver efficiently from the start of CP6. Network Rail has undertaken an analysis of some of the key leading indicators of efficient delivery for each of its routes for 2019-20, the first year of CP6. Given that it is around nine months before the start of CP6, we would not expect routes to have fully developed workbanks, contractual arrangements and resources. However, Network Rail’s analysis shows that most routes still have a substantial amount of work to do to get ready for the start of CP6. Network Rail needs to be clearer about its targets, and to improve its comparative analysis of the regional variations across its leading indicators. We will hold Network Rail to account through our regular director-level meetings with individual routes and report on progress in our next Monitor publication.
- Annual efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail for 2016-17
- Route-level efficiency benefit sharing payments (REBS) 2016-17
- Annual efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail for 2015-16
- Route-level efficiency benefit sharing payments (REBS) 2015-16
- Route-level efficiency benefit sharing payments (REBS) 2014-15
- Annual efficiency and financial assessment of Network Rail for 2014-15
16 Oct 2015
- Annual efficiency and financial assessment of Network Rail for 2013-14
- Annual efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail 2012-13
12 Sep 2013
- Annual efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail 2011-12 and annex to the 2012 report
8 Nov 2012
- Annual efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail 2010-11
30 Sep 2011
- Annual efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail 2009-10
8 Sep 2010
- Annual efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail 2008-09
2 Oct 2009
- Annual assessment of Network Rail 2007-08
17 Sep 2008
- Annual assessment of Network Rail 2006-07
17 Sep 2007
- Annual assessment of Network Rail 2005-06
29 Sep 2006
- Annual Assessment of Network Rail 2004-05
29 Sep 2005
Underspend and efficiency
It is important for the viability and development of the railway that Network Rail delivers its outputs at the least possible cost in order to minimise the financial burden on both its customers and funders.
In order to facilitate this, in 2006 we published our policy on monitoring underspend and efficiency.
- Monitoring and treatment of Network Rail's underspend and efficiency: policy statement
- Independent Reporter: Audit of Network Rail's Roll Out of Cost Analysis Frameworks and Maintenance Unit Cost Measures - Final Report by Halcrow
- Responses to Monitoring and treatment of underspend and efficiency: consultation on proposed policy statement
- Addendum to annual efficiency and finance assessment of Network Rail 2017-18: Route-level efficiency benefit sharing (REBS) payments 2017-18 PDF, 167 Kb
31 January 2019
- How our PR13 efficiency assumptions for Network Rail were derived
21 October 2015
- Network Rail 2013/14 Regulatory Accounts Year-end review, final report by Ove Arup
- Enhancement project spend efficiency assessment: investment schemes - independent report by CH2MHILL
7 August 2014
- Network Rail 2012/13 Regulatory Accounts Year-end review, Final report by Ove Arup
- Network Rail 2011/12 Regulatory Accounts Year-end review, Final report by Ove Arup
- Efficiency benefit sharing mechanism letter to the industry
22 March 2012
- Efficiency benefit sharing mechanism letter
11 November 2011
- Network Rail regulatory accounts data assurance - Final report by Ove Arup
- Network Rail's unit cost framework - Letter to Network Rail
9 May 2011
- Audit of the robustness of the Network Rail unit cost framework - Report by Ove Arup & Partners Ltd
Arup's report on the robustness of Network Rail's unit cost framework
- Network Rail annual return MUC and CAF audit 2009/10 - Report by Ove Arup & Partners Ltd
Arup's report on Network Rail's 2009-10 maintenance and renewals unit costs.