If Labour wins next year’s general election, the infrastructure controller will compete with ROSCOs and take over tasks from train operators



Network Rail rather than train operators will have lead responsibility for planning train services, and provide competition to the rolling stock leasing companies if Labour wins next year’s election.

The new responsibilities form part of a revised role set out for the company by shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh which would see it become the industry’s “guiding mind”.

Other key tasks that would transfer to Network Rail under Labour’s blueprint include overseeing stations, fares and ticketing; raising industry skill levels and ensuring customer satisfaction across the network.

A new “representative passenger rail organisation” would be created to work alongside Network Rail in carrying out its new remit.

“Simply put, there is no ‘guiding mind’ to plan future investment and to integrate the track and trains in the interest of passengers,” Creagh said explaining the rationale for the new policy. The objectives, incentives and rewards for Network Rail and the train operating companies are misaligned, and sometimes even compete.”

Creagh added that tasking the company with procuring and leasing new rolling stock would provide much needed competition to the ROSCOs who she described as “making huge profits for doing very little, in a low risk environment”.

Network Rail’s new role will form the centrepiece of the party’s rail policy for its election campaign. Other reforms will include reforming the franchising system to focus more closely on passengers’ needs and devolving control over rail services to local authorities.


This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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