The breakdown

Network Rail’s Control Period 7 (CP7) delivery plan sets out their planned activities, outputs and expenditure of operating, maintaining and renewing the mainline railway infrastructure in Great Britain in the period 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2029.  

In recent months, winners have been announced for different contracts across Network Rail’s 5 regions. The headline figure of £44bn has been split across different elements of the railway:  

  • £19.3bn on renewals  
  • £12.6bn on maintenance with regions spending 6% more on maintenance activity compared with CP6 
  • £5.3bn on support functions  
  • £4.4bn on operations  
  • £1.8bn ‘risk fund’  

The winners so far…

In March 2024, Network Rail appointed Liz Baldwin as its director for Southern Integrated Delivery (SID), part of the Southern Renewals Enterprise (SRE) responsible for delivering the £9bn renewals portfolio. Four partners have been selected for this region; VolkerFitzpatrick, Octavius, VolkerRail and Atkins.  

In the North West and Central Region, Network Rail announced the winners for its £2bn capital works delivery frameworks. Amongst the winners are Kier, Skanska, Octavius, Murphy and Story. In the Eastern Region, Network Rail has announced the 15 firms that will work on its £3.5bn Eastern Routes Partnership. These include Amey, Octavius, Keltbray, Morgan Sindall, AmcoGiffen and Bam Nuttall amongst others.  

 

Challenges to delivery

Within the £44bn, Network Rail is also planning to invest around £2.8bn in activities and technology that will help the railway cope with climate change and extreme weather. Which is the biggest challenge the railway currently faces according to Network Rail CEO Andrew Haines.  

One of the key challenges to delivering CP7 is the lack of a rail investment strategy that includes a concrete commitment to an enhancement plan. For the objectives and commitments of CP7 to be met there needs to be a clear directive from the Government outlining which rail schemes in Network North, the IRP and the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline it intends to bring forward over the next five years. By setting a clear vision the Government can help Network Rail and the Rail industry supply chain to work together to undertake the renewals and enhancements funded by CP7 that delivers value for money for both rail customers and taxpayers.  

 

Leadership merry-go-round

Challenges to delivery come down to a lack of certainty. Over the past 5 years we have had 4 different Prime Ministers, 4 different Transport Secretaries and 11 different Transport Ministers. What the sector needs is a Government committed to investing in big ticket projects to truly bring about transformational change to the sector. By unlocking these opportunities for development, further opportunities for social value activity can be found and local challenges met.  

 

Travelling in the wrong direction

The Rail sector also has a pivotal role to play in Net Zero. Recent data released by the DfT highlighted a worrying trend, with the number of miles travelled by motor vehicles rising by 2.2% in 2023 compared to the year before. The reality is that people will continue to be reliant on motor vehicles whilst the Government fails to act on improving public transport services around the UK. By investing in transformational rail infrastructure, the Government can unleash the potential of the Rail sector to play a pivotal role in the road to Net Zero.  

 

Staying on track

Rail’s future reputation and sustainability credentials will be influenced by how the industry’s social value competencies are built and maintained. The challenge the railway faces is maintaining the social license to build and maintain its infrastructure. Network Rail has a responsibility to give back to the communities it serves. Should the railway fail to fulfil its obligations then it loses the social license to deliver. 

One of the steepest challenges facing the rail sector, and transport sector more widely, is solving the problem of Transport Related Social Exclusion. Inherently, the rail sector can provide a solution to this problem, either by building new stations, new railways or by providing quicker and more reliable services. However, this also presents other social value opportunities for CP7 contractors and Network Rail to provide community benefits during this funding period. 

For truly impactful social value to be realised collaboration between local authorities and contractors needs to be encouraged from the offset. Local authorities often have first hand knowledge of what social value elements are needed in their areas and contractors can advise on how to deliver it. Including social value elements has become “business as usual” for projects but best practice needs to be embedded in the work in the same way as health and safety culture is. By embracing this approach then social value can be encouraged and genuine successes achieved.  

 

Copper in rail

At Copper, we understand the importance of connecting communities and the unique opportunities stations provide. Our team supports both clients and contractors with bespoke stakeholder engagement, community benefit advocacy and social value delivery. We additionally provide in depth local analysis to encourage greater engagement between the railways and the communities they serve. 

 

We are launching our report on the public’s perceptions of station investment later this year. For more information and to make sure you are the first on the list to receive a copy please email ella.sanders@copperconsultancy.com or william.mendoza@copperconsultancy.com.