Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

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Next steps for the UK’s rail network - Draft Rail Reform Bill | Great British Railways | priorities for CP7 | freight | improving reliability & passenger satisfaction | decarbonising & future-proofing UK rail infrastructure

May 2024

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference focused on next steps for the UK’s rail network, looking at priorities for delivering a reliable network and future-proofing rail infrastructure.

It took place with:

  • the publication of the Draft Rail Reform Bill in February 2024, which includes legislation to create Great British Railways, an Integrated Rail Body, and for which the Transport Committee has begun pre-legislative scrutiny
  • the commencement of Network Rail’s Control Period 7 (CP7) in April 2024, with planned activities for operation, maintenance and expenditure set out to March 2029
  • the NAO’s value for money report published in March 2024, which concluded that the UK rail sector’s performance is not good enough and has not been for some time
  • the PM’s announcement in October 2023 that the northern leg of HS2 will be cancelled and replaced by spending on local transport projects under the Network North scheme

It brought stakeholders and policymakers together to examine Network Rail’s priorities for CP7, considering the objectives outlined in the delivery plan and how effectively they respond to longer-term government goals and the needs of passengers and other stakeholders, for both the rail and wider transport sector.

Delegates considered the Office of Rail and Road’s final determination on the CP7 proposals, including implications of accountability measures and their role in ensuring targets are met.

It was also an opportunity to assess how the establishment of an Integrated Rail Body will impact the Government’s aims of providing better accountability, more reliable services, greater efficiency and coordinated growth across both the passenger and freight sectors.

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with: Will Godfrey, Director of Economics, Finance and Markets, ORR; Jonny Mood, Director of Transport Value for Money, NAO; Paul McMahon, Director of Planning and Regulation, Network Rail; and Henri Murison, Chief Executive, Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

Overall, areas for discussion included:

  • Network Rail’s CP7 delivery plan: key areas of focus in CP7 plans - enablers and strategies for implementing priorities - how far plans go in delivering against government objectives and whether they meet the needs of railway users
  • CP7 funding priorities: impact of increased spending on core infrastructure and environmental aims - priority areas of investment - addressing stakeholder concerns of overall funding adequacy and trade-offs in other areas
  • ORR’s PR23: building on recommendations made in the Final Determination - evaluating Network Rail’s targets over 2022-23 and CP6 as a whole
  • freight: examining the Government’s ambition to grow rail freight by at least 75% before 2050 - assessing how Network Rail’s initial targets for freight growth in CP7 fit within the long-term target and wider decarbonisation aims across the entire freight sector
  • Draft Rail Reform Bill:
    • next steps for establishing GBR - impact of the pre-legislative process - areas of reform that the Bill will allow to be implemented before powers are conferred to GBR
    • creation of an Integrated Rail Body and the immediate transferral of powers from the Secretary of State to the new body
    • evaluating how powers passed onto GBR will fit within current arrangements, both across England and devolved nations
    • how to address stakeholder concerns over the timescale of implementation in response to a Reform Bill rather than a full Transport Act
  • value for money and performance: options for improving the rail sector ahead of new legislation - addressing underlying problems - understanding what is needed to deliver improvements - devising realistic delivery plans - the impact of reform on addressing problems outlined in the NAO’s value for money report published in March
  • delivering a reliable rail network: strategies for resolving industry disputes - addressing disruption from ongoing industrial action - improving train performance and efficiency - improving passenger satisfaction
  • ticketing: assessing the impact of ticket office closure reversals on passengers and running costs, as well as other potentially controversial policies - achieving value for money
  • sustainability: strategies for decarbonising and future-proofing the sector - examining RSSB’s Sustainable Rail Blueprint - opportunities for individual operating companies to build a more environmentally-friendly network - asset renewal - developing innovation and technology

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from DfT; ORR; NIC; Defra; DfI, NI; DESNZ; Transport Scotland; GLD; House of Commons Library; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materials, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda