The UK rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has published its assessment of Network Rail’s plans to spend £4 billion in Scotland over the next five years.
The ORR said “more work” is needed by Network Rail to confirm exactly how it “will meet each of the Scottish Ministers’ published requirements’ and said “there is scope to make further cost savings.”
ORR found Network Rail has “set out more clearly than before” what each part of its business will deliver for Scotland and “has improved its justification” of how and where it will invest in Scotland.
“ORR’s assessment of what Network Rail plans to spend to operate maintain and renew the railway in Scotland, shows it could further improve its efficiency by around £70 million and should also reduce its planned spend on research and development because this is not fully justified,” said the ORR.
“Together with other changes, this would release around £150 million, which Transport Scotland could spend in other areas.
“It has also set out that the punctuality target for the first year … should be increased from 91.5% to 92.5%, in line with Scottish Ministers’ HLOS.”
Joanna Whittington, Chief Executive, ORR, said: “We are pleased that each part of Network Rail has more clearly set out and justified what it will deliver in Scotland.
“This demonstrates the benefit of increasing devolution across the whole of Network Rail.
“But more work is needed to confirm exactly how Network Rail will meet each of the Scottish Ministers’ published requirements, and there is scope to make further cost savings.
“We will also be strengthening our monitoring of Network Rail, with a published tracker showing its delivery against each requirement, and more comparisons of how Network Rail in Scotland compares to routes in England and Wales.”
Network Rail’s plans for Scotland form part of an overall strategy to spend more than £34 billion throughout Britain in the next five years to 2024.