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2004-03-19 NET-001
Network Rail

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Network Rail delivers on its 18 month promise


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Network Rail

Network Rail delivers on its 18 month promise
_______________________________________________________________


date
19 March 2004
source Network Rail
type Press release

note PR04021


Network Rail is approaching 18 months in charge of Britain’s railway infrastructure and believes it has made good on its promise made on day one - that it would deliver ‘real improvements within 18 months’. Passengers have already started to benefit from Network Rail’s work with significant progress made in improving performance and efficiency and a good start made to reduce costs.

The key headlines of our ongoing progress include:
o Network Rail delay minutes down 21% over the last five months
o All rail maintenance coming back in-house; Reading area 41% fewer delays, Wessex 19% less
o Major progress on cost control; keener priced more efficient track renewals contracts, West Coast spend reduced £1.6bn to £8.1bn, 700+ headcount reduction
o An Interim Review conclusion resulting in certainty and stability over future funding
o ‘Virtual’ integration underway – Waterloo was the first

Network Rail Chairman, Ian McAllister, said: “Over the past 18 months we have made significant progress in achieving our primary goal - to deliver safe, reliable and efficient rail infrastructure. We have taken some bold decisions that put us in a better position to accelerate this progress. Already, passengers are starting to see benefits for the tremendous amount of work being done behind the scenes to deliver a better railway. “

Mr McAllister continued: “Over the last few months train punctuality has improved as the benefits of the changes we have made have fed through. Performance is improving across the board, but in the areas where maintenance has come in-house, the improvement has been most encouraging. In Reading, delay minutes are down 41% over the last five months whilst in Wessex delays are down 19% since we took direct control.

“We realise that this is only the beginning. Progress is being made but there is still much to do to deliver a railway of which we can all be proud.”

Highlights of the changes implemented over the past 18 months include:

Performance:
o Performance in Reading maintenance area, the first to come back in-house last June, has improved 41% over the past five months compared to the previous year
o Performance in Wessex, the second area to come back in-house, has improved 19% in the three months since Network Rail took control in November
o National Network Rail caused delays have fallen by some 21% over the last five months
o Delays per incident were also reduced in the last quarter of 2003 - the first sustained drop for almost four years - with infrastructure causes down by some 16%
o Broken rails reduced by 26% year on year - presently stand at 324 compared with 436 on the 2002/03 year to date figure. This compares to a peak annual number of 952 broken rails in 1998/9
o ‘Six sigma’ management techniques are being introduced to understand root causes of delay - over 500 staff trained
o £14 million critical junctions project, enhanced inspection and maintenance focused on 100 priority junctions – delivering major improvement in performance
o 100 critical paths project, targeting resources on key train journeys to improve overall punctuality – resulting in less delay for passengers
o Regional possession planning units created to improve efficiency and utilisation of possessions across the board

Efficiency:
o Interim Review of track access charges complete providing long-term financial stability and secure, predictable revenue streams
o Commitment to unprecedented rate of efficiency improvements – 31% savings over five years
o Headcount reduced by 700 with a commitment to a further 1,300 reduction within three years

o Active programme of benchmarking performance, engineering techniques and unit costs between different areas plus international comparisons (Japan)
o Reduction on projected cost of West Coast project of £1.6bn to £8.1bn

Maintenance:
o All maintenance expected to be taken in-house by the end of the summer. This involves the transfer of 18,500 maintenance workers to Network Rail. Some 2,600 already in-house
o Reading maintenance contract successfully taken back in-house (two months early), Wessex (five months early) and East Midlands (14 months early)
o Fundamental change in approach to maintenance from ‘find and fix’ to ‘predict and prevent’
o New Measurement Train introduced - 125 mph automated track inspection, track geometry, conditional and ride information, video recording
o Over £200 million invested in new plant and machinery including a new fleet of rail grinders, stoneblowers, ballast cleaning trains, Multi-Purpose Vehicles and a high output plain line track renewal train ordered
o A maintenance database, known as MIMS, being actively implemented across the country. Full asset register to be complete by summer 2005

Organisation changes:
o New customer-focussed organisational structure being introduced across the UK. Day to day operation split into eight routes, five asset management territories and 18 area delivery groups to create an efficient, streamlined, customer-facing and responsive organisation
o Seven clear corporate objectives established, detailed actions plans introduced to deliver improved performance
o Supply chain reorganised to maximise purchasing efficiencies
o Network Rail ‘Railway Estates’ created to align property interests with core railway operations, new senior management team

Projects & renewals:
o Record levels of track renewed – over 830 miles of rail, over 550 miles of sleepers and some 600 miles of ballast will have been replaced by year end (31 March). In Railtrack’s day this fell to some 150 miles.
o Record numbers of switch and crossing units delivered – over 2,000 by year end
o The first of a new generation of efficient track renewals contracts let. The rest to follow in the coming weeks

Safety:
o £500 million Train Protection and Warning System completed across network on time and under budget
o Broken rails at record low levels

General:
o Network Rail ‘fat controllers’ introduced at Waterloo Integrated Control Centre (the first of seven across the country), to improve effective operational decision making and reap the benefits of virtual integration
o Signal design taken back in-house to ensure greater cost effectiveness of new signalling projects
o £4 billion euro commercial paper programme and US commercial paper program signed
o £10 billion Medium Term Notes Programme signed with first tranche of £2.25bn secured
o Innovative Management Incentive Plan introduced - executive pay directly linked to passenger interests, no rewards for failure
o Partnerships established with Freight Operating Companies to jointly improve train performance
o Southern Power upgrade underway including over 500 miles of cabling to be replaced, 160 substations and 146 transformers to allow new train fleet on to network

- ends -

Notes to editors

Network Rail is the 'not for dividend' operator of Britain's rail network. Our objective is to provide safe, reliable and efficient rail infrastructure.
We own and maintain the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, viaducts, and level crossings. We also own the network’s 2,500 stations, and manage the largest and busiest. We provide access to the tracks for every passenger and freight train, timetable their journeys, and operate the signalling, which controls their movements.
Network Rail is a company limited by guarantee with members instead of shareholders. It is run as a commercial organisation, but any operating surplus is re-invested in the rail network.
Our core focus is the operation, maintenance and renewal of existing rail infrastructure, with the Strategic Rail Authority taking the lead on enhancement projects.
We have set clear targets to improve performance and reduce costs, but safety is always at the forefront of our activities as we rebuild Britain's railway.
Details about the Company can be found on the Network Rail web site: www.networkrail.co.uk
For media enquiries please contact the Network Rail press office on 020 7557 8292 / 3


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