Rail infrastructure investment inquiry launched

13 November 2017

Most rail infrastructure funding in Britain is channelled through Network Rail. The Transport Committee announces a new inquiry looking at whether the current system of planning and delivering investment in rail infrastructure is adequate.

Inquiry background

The Government funds Network Rail in five year cycles known as control periods, a system which is designed to enable Government to set strategic objectives for the railways, providing direction in terms of what work is expected and how much money is available. The process for deciding the funding and outputs of Network Rail for Control Period 6 (CP6: April 2019 – March 2024) has begun and will complete next year.

In October, the Government announced that £47.9 billion has been set aside for CP6. £34.7 billion will come from Government grant, supplemented by track access charges and commercial income.

Ambitious plans, including several electrification schemes, have already been scaled back. Cost overruns from CP5 mean £3.4 billion of renewals are likely to be postponed into CP6. Peaks and troughs in work can put additional pressures on rail supply chain companies, risking successful completion of projects on time and on budget. Current private sector investment in the rail industry is concentrated on rolling stock with a relatively small proportion spent on rail infrastructure.

Submit your views

The process for deciding the funding and outputs of Network Rail for the control period 2019-2024 is underway. Against this background, the Committee wishes to understand whether the current system of planning and delivering investment in rail infrastructure is adequate.

The Committee is particularly interested in submissions addressing:

  • The impact of postponing renewals from the current control period into the next and the implications of the Secretary of State’s decision to remove enhancements from the control period process;
  • The adequacy of the control period process in enabling the delivery of long term rail infrastructure objectives;
  • Whether Network Rail’s long term planning process is effective in providing the industry with strategic direction beyond the five year control period;
  • The reasons for the apparent regional disparity in rail infrastructure funding, and the mechanisms by which regions may have a greater input into planning and delivering rail infrastructure, including through route devolution within Network Rail and entitles such as Transport for the North and Midlands Connect;
  • The possible implications of the Government’s policy of increasing the share of private sector financing in rail infrastructure; and
  • Whether steps taken by the Government and Network Rail to increase private sector investment for rail infrastructure are adequate and how continuing barriers to private sector investment might be addressed.

Send us your written submissions through the Rail infrastructure investment inquiry page.

Deadline for written submissions is Monday 18 December 2017.

Chair's comment

The Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, is speaking at the East Midlands Chamber Conference today. Announcing the inquiry beforehand, she said:

"Government has started work on funding and spending plans for Network Rail in Control Period 6. This should address the failures of the current control period: scrapped electrification and enhancement projects; uncompleted work tipping from the current control period to the next; and deep disquiet about differences in regional funding.

We will consider whether the mechanism of control periods is the best way to manage investment in rail infrastructure. At a time when UK passengers have seen ticket prices rising far faster than their wages, the Committee will examine whether the current system of planning and delivering investment is giving us the infrastructure we need if we are to have a modern 21st century railway."

Further information

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