THE GOVERNMENT expects Network Rail’s expenditure in Control Period 6 (CP6, 2019-24) to total £47.9 billion. Of this, £34.7 billion will consist of direct grant from the Government, with the remainder comprising NR’s expected income from track access charges and other sources, such as its property portfolio. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling described the funding envelope as ‘stretching yet achievable’.

The details are contained in the Department for Transport’s Statement of Funds Available (SoFA). The document explains the level of expenditure is ‘focused on and provides for the operations, maintenance and renewal of the existing railway over CP6’, but also ‘makes some provision for the funding of enhancements’, and it includes funding to take forward enhancements deferred from CP5. However, decisions regarding specific enhancements are expected ‘to be dealt with separately’ and the SoFA ‘makes no commitments to specific enhancements’.

In a written statement to Parliament accompanying the release of the SoFA, Mr Grayling said the Government is determined that the railway ‘becomes more focused on issues that matter most to passengers – such as punctuality and reliability’. In Mr Grayling’s view, a ‘renewed focus’ on the core railway activities of operation, maintenance and renewal ‘will help return train performance to the levels that passengers expect and deserve’. The minister also said he has ‘taken steps to ensure that this money is spent more effectively and that the problems with cost and delivery which occurred during Control Period 5 are not repeated’.

Going forward, the regulatory process is set to produce detailed draft amounts by summer 2018 for consultation. Mr Grayling said budgets for NR would be set at Route level, ‘as part of the devolution of more accountability and authority to Network Rail Routes, driving change in the organisation’. The regulatory process is to conclude with a final determination for CP6, published in October 2018.

Mr Grayling added that he expects the Office of Rail and Road to provide ‘a strong efficiency challenge to maximise value for money’, and says the regulator ‘has substantially changed its regulatory approach to help achieve this’.

Decisions regarding enhancements will be ‘subject to ongoing consideration to ensure they deliver the best results for both rail users and taxpayers’. Funding will be made available for ‘the early-stage development of new enhancement schemes’, with further details on a new process for taking forward enhancements due to be announced later in the year. The SoFA also includes funding for ‘continued investment in improvements to both the accessibility of the railway and the rail freight network’.