RIA responds to ORR’s consultation on Network Rail’s CP7 …

The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the rail supply community, has today responded to the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) consultation on this draft determination on Network Rail’s Business Plans for 2024-29 (Control Period 7).

RIA’s response sets out how the ORR’s Draft Determination highlights a number of challenges facing the industry, including the need for a smooth transition of work programme into CP7 and smooth profile up to 2029.

RIA welcomed the CP7 announcements by the UK and Scottish Governments in December 2022 and February 2023 respectively, to keep funding for NR broadly stable in real terms. However, since these plans were developed, inflation projections for the next five years have risen, making it more important than ever to manage costs and grow revenues.

In this context, RIA’s response to the draft determination emphasises the need for:

  • A credible long-term financial strategy for the railway;
  • A focus on growing revenues, rather than simply cutting costs in the short term;
  • A smooth profile of investment into CP7, over the five years, and then avoiding a drop-off in the final year;
  • Clear expectations on Network Rail to promote the sustainability of the supply chain;
  • Greater transparency during CP7, reflecting the difficult trade-offs that will need to be made within Network Rail’s funding on an ongoing basis, and the long-term consequences of these decisions;
  • ORR to work with the UK and Scottish Governments to consider how best to provide earlier transparency of plans in future, such as moving to transparent plans that are continuously updated and show asset investment profiles for different levels of NR funding.

Commenting, RIA’s Policy Director, Robert Cook, said:

“It is very much welcome that the UK and Scottish Governments have sustained funding into CP7, but inflation, climate resilience and the need to grow revenues mean that we need a step-change in our ambitions for the future.

“As ORR finalises its determination, we look to both Governments, Network Rail and the ORR itself to facilitate changes which bring about a more integrated railway, clearly focused on investing to improve services and increase revenues over the long run. We are living through a challenging, but exciting, era for rail, and it is essential that the industry works together to embrace the opportunities and overcome the hurdles.”