Network Rail - A not for profit company

Network Rail – A non for net income company. 4,500 words.

( I ) To what extent and why has Network Rail, a non for dividend private company, been able to decide the jobs of funding and pull offing the national railroad substructure, as compared to both public and conventional ( for net income ) private ownership? Discuss the grade to which the troubles it has encountered are generic to inveigh systems elsewhere.

There are two indispensable decisions to be drawn here. First, that value for money is a result mediated through the type – and the location of usage – exercised by persons, and groups of consumers. Second, that the progressive or intermediate province of railroad direction ( if it is regarded as such ) finally reflects the nature of a job which consecutive authoritiess – or, if you prefer, consecutive political orientations – have tried to turn to. If this position is accepted, the corollary is that merely a strictly useful re-appraisal of the railroad inquiry, conducted with respect to likely results, can offer any sort of solution. ) The job with this attack nevertheless, is that the ensuing analysis may good be one which rail users, and society as a whole, are unwilling to accept. The other, and mostly unknown factor in this analyses, is the likely impact of medium and long term external factors, such as switching energy markets and environmental policy. The denationalization procedure as it has been conducted since the 1990’s, has four indispensable constituents, as Steel and Heald indicate: charging, undertaking out, denationalisation, and burden sloughing: ‘…Charging involves the ( partial ) permutation of user charges for revenue enhancement finance. Contracting-out represents the permutation of private contractors for in-house production. Denationalisation and load-shedding refer to decreases in the range of public sector activity, taking the signifiers, severally, of the sale of endeavors and the ( partial ) forsaking of public non-market functions’ ( Steel and Heald 1984: p.13 ) . In the post-privatisation stage, we are basically faced with a hybridised direction manner presiding over an progressively disconnected concern.

As Hibbs indicates with respect to overall conveyance usage, ‘Measured by volume…the railroads account for a proportion of less than 10 per cent of the market. Wartime apart, their part has declined steadily for since the 1920’s, and yet there are those who seem to see them as in some manner essential.’ ( Hibbs 2006: p.59 ) . It is authorities and the taxpayer who mostly make up the difference between public-service corporation and viability, so close attending must be paid the extent of authorities influence in railroad direction. The Railways Act 2005 dismantled the Strategic Rail Authority and split its undertakings between the Department for Transport and Network Rail. As Tyrrall points out, this put the authorities ‘…back in charge of the scheme and the cost of the railroads, and of the franchising of TOCs.’ Meanwhile the HSE ( Health and Safety Executive ) transferred its remit to the Office of Rail Regulation. ( Tyrrall 2006: p.123 ) It has evidently been both the redemption and the bad luck of the rail web to be the topic of long-run authorities involvement and intercession. These activities, sometimes necessary, sometimes unneeded, and often stand foring some signifier of fiscal or structural discontinuity, have the added deduction of affecting railroads in an ideological argument. As Ferlie et Al. have indicated, ‘There is a danger that the reforming rhythm merely reproduces itself infinitely, as each coevals of freshly appointed curates physiques short term political reputes on denoting of all time newer reforms.’ ( Ferlie, 2003: S2 ) The inexplicit soaking up of such duologue into the political domain means that generic contentions about the comparative public-service corporation of private and public direction are hard to disassociate from the full issue of railroad direction. As Glaister and Travers pointed out of John Major’s original denationalization drift, ‘Debate about the denationalization of the railroads has been obscured by the overdone nature of opposing positions. The authorities has projected an fond regard to an ideologically pure version of denationalization that likely exceeds its ain hopes and outlooks. Oppositions of the policy have exaggerated the possible menaces to the operation of an integrated railway.’ ( Glaister and Travers 1993: p.54 )

Fortunately for this treatment, we are able to concentrate on a much more touchable job: the fittingness, for its declared intent, of Network Rail. ‘Tangible’ , in this regard, does non needfully connote the easy physical entree to objective or even accurate information, or that the issues involved are to be adduced or debated in a straightforward manner. There is besides a farther dimension to this inquiry. The public presentation of Network Rail may be apprehended with comparative objectiveness in footings of the judgement, activity, and dependability of its administration, officers and systems. This, nevertheless, is simply an assessment of the specificity of that organisation. Whilst this is utile, it does non adequately reply the implicit in inquiry, which is, on exactly what footing should the UK rail web be run, and what sort organisation an be envisaged to properly transport out that map?

Within certain parametric quantities, Network Rail is good situated at nowadays: it besides has new direction. In October 2008, both Chief Sir Ian McAllister and Chief Financial Officer Rod Henderson announced their going, amidst guess that the CE’s station would be filled by Rob Holden, current caput of London and Continental Railways. ( Wright 4.10.08 ) In the six months taking up to September 30Thursday2008, it made pre-tax net incomes of ?706 million out of turnover of ?3.12 billion: the same consequences over the same period in 2007 were ?780 million and ?2.9 billion severally. ( Wright 20.11.08 ) . ( See Appendix ) The challenge it faces is basically the same one faced by it doomed predecessor: ineluctable political force per unit area for the overall decrease of its public subsidy. The inevitable nature of this is mediated through one key variable: the timescale. As Glaister and Travers argued at the clip of denationalization, ‘…In the short term, there is no chance of cut downing subsidy because:

  • Productivity nest eggs will take some clip to travel through ;
  • The backlog of investing will be caught up ;
  • Future investing demands must be financed ; and
  • Decreases in profitableness in some services because of ordinance and, in the longer term, because of competition through unfastened entree, will connote replacing by direct subsidy.’ ( Glaister and Travers 1993 p.57 )

Network Rail is presently expecting the result of its recognition evaluation – to be established by January 2009 – which will efficaciously find the viability of its program to raise ?4.4 billion in debt over the following four old ages. ( Wright 20.11.08 ) As in many other respects, it lacks the self-government to adequately act upon these events. The regulator has late allowed Network Rail authorities subsidies, operators fees and freight gross of ?26.7 billion, a sum ?2.4 billion less than it asked for. Whilst it theoretically has resort to the Competition Commission for an entreaty over such opinions, as Wright indicates, the latter ‘…could take old ages to make a determination and Network Rail in the meantime would hold to stay by the October 30 guidelines on its spending.’ ( Wright 20.11.08 ) This in consequence means that, despite doing grants of ?800 million on its original petition, Network Rail has to do important nest eggs on its infrastructural budget. As a spokesman explained, ‘…Reducing costs in line with ORR’s bill of exchange findings would necessitate one-year nest eggs of over 7 per cent in other countries, which is dual the overall rate assumed by ORR. It has given no grounds to propose that this is realistic. It is besides out of line with premises made by other regulators.’ ( Vermeulen 2008 ) . Basically so, Network Rail has at best reinterpreted, and at worst, perpetuated, the jobs of railroad finance. Although these issues are non alone to the UK, they are exacerbated by its historical, financial and geographical impulses.

two ) Based upon the information you have been given, to what extent is it possible to compare Network Rail’s public presentation in 2008 with respect to usage, investing, promptness, ailments and overcrowding with Railtrack’s public presentation?

Measure the grade to which public presentation in these countries has improved under Network Rail’s stewardship. Discourse the grade to which such public presentation measuring is utile and to whom. Support your statements with grounds.

The tremendous sum of informations available via the ORR needs careful consideration against that of Network Rail’s predecessor, Railtrack, before any meaningful decisions can be drawn about the comparative public presentation of the two organisations. The overall rider kilometres have risen from 9.8 billion to 12.6 billion since 2002. ( National Rail Trends 2008 ) Punctuality, we are informed, has besides improved. In 1999, the ORR imposed a punishment of ?400,000 for each tenth part of a per centum point by which Railtrack failed to run into the 12.7 per cent mark for the decrease of self-caused proceedingss delay per rider train. ( ORR 1999: p.1 ) This is precisely the sort of border by which Network Rail has been shown – through the ORR’s ain statistics – to hold made damages. The per centum of trains geting duly has reportedly risen at least 10 per cent across all classs of operators, ( National Rail Trends 2008 ) . Network Rail has non been slow to foreground this: ‘…the dramatic betterments in promptness seen over the last five old ages have continued. By the terminal of the twelvemonth, promptness of trains reached 89.9 per cent.’ ( Network Rail 2008 ) . The rider blessing evaluations as published by the ORR besides show a shallow upward tendency across all parts and types of service. ( National Rail Trends 2008 ) . Obviously, such statistics are capable to all the vagaries implicit in average norms, a clause which must be applied every bit to both sets of figures. More specifically, they marginalize the thorny issue of technology work holds and closings, which have caused important dissension between authorities, regulators and Network Rail. The parliamentary Select Committee on conveyance has drawn specific attending to what it footings the ‘seven twenty-four hours per week’ service committedness: ‘We welcome the committedness of both Network Rail and the Government to the weeklong per hebdomad railroad, where technology plants are done nightlong, avoiding major technology ownerships at weekends and Bank Holidays. Network Rail will necessitate to implement many alterations to the web, such as rerouting and dual trailing before the seven twenty-four hours per hebdomad railroad can go anything more than a distant dream.’ ( House of Commons 2008 ) . The overall point demands to be made so, that there is a large difference between mensurating the public presentation of a company running on a ill maintained web, and one which running on a web which is non to the full functional.

As a agency of measuring Network Rail’s public presentation hence, a direct comparative attack has important restrictions. Passenger volumes are evidently influenced by public presentation, and it may be argued that there is a correlativity between the two tendencies. However, the altered concern, economic, and infrastructural environment should besides be taken into history, as should the differentiated force per unit areas which apply to the several organic structures in different periods. As Wright points out of modern-day projections, ‘…passenger volumes look set at least to maintain gait with such capacity improvements…SouthWest Trains predicts the present economic lag will supply merely impermanent reprieve from the rapid demand growing that has created serious peaktime overcrowding on many of the region’s rail paths. Southeast Trains now plans to keep capacity on its bing paths even after debut of the new, high-velocity services because it expects go oning, turning demand.’ ( Wright 25.11.08 ) Furthermore, some of the most telling indexs of Network Rail’s existent public presentation ballad in the minutiae of official coverage on single infrastructural undertakings, such as the West Coast Main Line. In 2006 the National Audit Office concluded that, ‘…value for money for the programme in its entireness has non been maximized: there were significant early abortive costs…and the demand for extra franchise support for Virgin Rail Group…to maintain train services running.’ From this sort of grounds the NAO projected that Network Rail was likely to overspend its budget to 2008-9 by about 10 per cent. Furthermore, the occupation still appeared uncomplete: as the NAO indicated, there remained ‘uncertainty’ about the lifetime of ‘…some of the equipment on the upgraded line.’ ( National Audit Office 2006: p.8 ) . There is hence a complex ethical trade off implicit in the current disbursement and subsidy dialogues between Network Rail and the authorities. Iain Coucher, caput of Network Rail, has late said his company was “ minded to accept ” the Office of Rail Regulation ‘s opinion on its support, which as Wright reminds us, was ‘… ?2.4bn less than Network Rail said it needed to accomplish betterments in train promptness and investing projects.’ ( Wright 21.11.2008 ) . It will be interesting to see if, despite this important deficit, the Rail Trends reports show continued betterment following twelvemonth, and even more interesting to see their birthplace if they do so.

three ) The UK authorities has indicated its support for securing public services from the private sector. Measure the statements used in the research and official literature to back up the position that the private sector provides a better option than the public sector, mentioning grounds derived from the class readings to back up your positions.

TheEconomistfurnishes us with a utile debut to this portion of the treatment, which is deserving citing in some length. ‘The advantage, from the authorities ‘s point of position, is that it is neither one thing nor the other—neither in the private sector, which is widely regarded as holding ruined the railroads, nor in the populace sector, which would put the outfit on the authorities ‘s books and therefore upset the Treasury by increasing public debt. The disadvantage is that it is answerable neither to stockholders nor, straight, to the Treasury. And with cipher commanding costs, they have mushroomed.’ ( Unattributed,The Economist2003 ) . Discussion of the denationalization of the rail web necessarily involves the consideration of denationalizationper Se,and its comparing – favorable or otherwise – with public sector direction. The public-private argument was one a literary and academiccause celebre,throwing up a whole genre which had its roots in the divisiveness of the 1980’s and post-Thatcher old ages. Now that discourse has seemingly been displaced by premises about the hegemony of a ‘Third-Way’ neo-liberal economic sciences, rendering treatment of corporatism and the assorted economic system common,passeand irrelevant – or so it might look. However, contention about the stewardship and direction of organic structures such as Network Rail contains much that is residuary, naming up an older discourse about the comparative competences of either cantonment in British direction. There are two strands to this contention: the supposed repeal of public resources by private involvements, and the comparative managerial – and ethical – qualities of public and private direction.

This templet of public-private competency should non, nevertheless, distract us from the specificity of the state of affairs: for illustration, in the manus over from Railtrack to Network Rail,bothsets of senior direction were substantively drawn from the private sector, as theEconomistnoted: ‘Network Rail ‘s supplications are likely to raise a dry smiling from the former president of Railtrack, John Robinson. Railtrack was forced into bankruptcy when Mr. Robinson told curates that it could non go on without extra authorities support. At that point, it was acquiring hardly half the ?3 billion a twelvemonth from the taxpayer which Network Rail now says it needs’ . ( Unattributed,The Economist2003 ) . Neither should this fact deflect us from the fact that authoritiess of both political persuasions have stopped short of to the full re-creating the railroad web in their ain ideological image. Conservatives have failed to let reliablelaissez-faireeconomic sciences to take their class, possibly because of the political impact of line closings and increased costs at the ballot box: Labour interim has avoided full-blooded re-nationalisation, possibly because their disbursement programs and the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement could non absorb the load of the rail balance sheet as in water under the bridge yearss. Therefore, it may be argued, a partizan analysis of the Network Rail directiondeadlockdoes us little good in useful footings. It may, as Roberts has argued, be true that… ‘While private sector council chambers are under force per unit area to make more with less, many authorities sections are giving a masterclass in how to make less with more… Given that some parts of the state rely about wholly on the populace sector for economic growing, the job is excessively big for anyone to ignore.’ ( Roberts, 2008, n.p. ) . The potency ofeithersignifier of expertness is improbable to be to the full tested while the current parametric quantities of rail direction remain unchanged. The permutation of a full-blooded private sector moral principle in railroad substructure direction is non merely highly improbable, but of questionable public-service corporation unless the full deductions are truly accepted on all sides. In 1986, Starkie – with some prevision – reflected that, ‘It is arguable whether such transportations would advance the nonsubjective most strongly canvassed by the privatisers – increased efficiency in the supply of services and hence more benefits to consumers. Efficiency is associated with competition, but it is non needfully true ( even if it seems likely ) that a simple transportation of assets to the private sector has the consequence of sharpening competitory forces.’ ( Starkie 1986: p.178 )

At present, the nearest thing Network Rail has to this sort of relationship ballads in its contractual agreements with train operators, although even this features an snap non usually present in commercial trades. As one operator spokesman put it, ‘We will flex over backwards to assist Network Rail to execute, ” says Graham Eccles, caput of rail at Stagecoach. “But at the terminal of the twenty-four hours if they do n’t present on their contract with us, we will hold to take action.”.’ ( Unattributed 2003 ) As the death of Railtrack demonstrated nevertheless, it is truly merely the authorities who can use the ultimate countenance.

( four ) To what extent and how does Network Rail’s administration construction as a non for dividend private company provide answerability to the populace for taxpayers’ money? Is this corporate construction likely to be a job for non for net income companies that deliver public services in other states?

As Tyrrall points out, ‘Almost all indexs suggest nevertheless, that costs have increased well. The cost of BR had been about ?4 billion per annum, dwelling of around ?3 billion of rider and cargo gross and ?1 billion of authorities subsidy. It was accepted that after denationalization authorities subsidy collectible to the industry via the TOCs would increase to about ?1.8 billion initially…’ ( Tyrrall 2006: p.113 ) . In absolute footings so, railway direction administration has simply presided over a net addition in outgo, with the lone step of return shacking in the official statistics.

Long earlier premier John Major slightly sharply launched the rail denationalization programme which had been eschewed by his no less avid but possibly more discreet predecessor, Mrs. Thatcher, a Department of Transport study adduced that ‘One can separate two attacks to pull offing the railroad. One is a business-oriented attack in which the intents of investing are to set every bit fast as possible to altering demand for conveyance, to allow changed operating patterns which will salvage money, and to take advantage of the greater productiveness of newer assets. The other attack is a tutelary attack in which the intent is to retain and regenerate every bit much as possible of the railway’s substructure and services’ ( Department of Transport 1983: p.49 )

Privatisation overall – if non Network Railper se –has boosted rider Numberss, although, as Tyrrall points out, ‘this addition has mostly been attributed to the growing in the economy…and increasing route congestion. These would hold increased demand regardless of denationalization, but there is no uncertainty that more inventive attacks to pricing and publicity since denationalization besides played a portion. ( Tyrrall 2006: p.111 ) .

If we wanted to specify Network Rail’s probity in inversionary or oppositional footings, we could make so in Altman’s definition of corporate moralss: as he puts it, ‘From a Kantian position, a corporation can hold no duty at all. Insofar as it is a tool, and a good tool performs its designated map good, a good corporation maximizes net incomes for its shareholders.’ ( Altman, 2007: p.261 ) . Whatever the ethical unity of this position, it illustrates exactly the sort of univocal intent which Network Rail deficiencies. As Ferlie et Al. argue, ‘There has… been continual restructuring in the UK populace sector for over 20 old ages, ab initio based on procuring greater productiveness and value for money, but more late ( though slightly equivocally ) , with a new partnership on partnerships and networks.’ ( Ferlie et al. 2003 S1 ) Network Rail has attracted many labels and unasked testimonies, from being characterised as simply ‘unusual’ to being a ‘pantomime Equus caballus with 230 legs’ , a description which theEconomistevolved with mention to Network Rail’s 115-member public involvement board. The same commentary judged that the institution’s origins ‘…were non auspicious. Stephen Byers, the conveyance secretary who forced Railtrack into disposal, was projecting about for thoughts on what to make with the railroads and plucked the theoretical account from a policy paper by the Institute for Public Policy and Research.’ ( Unattributed,The Economist2003 ) Whilst this may be apocryphal, the construction to which theEconomistalludes it non: a direction organic structure answerable to the aforesaid 115 worthies, two-thirds of whom are selected from 1,200 appliers, the remainder drawn from interested stakeholder organic structures such as the National Farmers Union and the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation.

Many characteristics of the organisation’s construction, such as its public involvement board, were designed to reflect its non for net income public service moral principle. However, it besides retains many facets of corporate administration which its designers in New Labour may see as less desirable, such as a wage construction whose extravagant inclinations preponderate in the council chamber. The short circuiting of the supposed interruption with the past – in the signifier of the defunct and now seemingly outcastRailtrack– was evident in the awarding of 60 per cent fillips to all five of its executive managers. Within their footings of service, this largesse would be triggered even if the statistics reflected a public presentation worse than that of the now sidelinedRailtrack.The keeping of private sector executive wage constructions has non, nevertheless, been mirrored in the accomplishment of other criterions. As Monks and Minow put it, the ‘external legitimacy of the executive… .must be sustained… by the personal moral principle of the persons involved every bit good as the broader corporate and social ethics.’ ( Monks and Minow, 2004, p.41 ) . Yet many of Network Rail’s worst weaknesss have been in the related countries of moralss and value for money. In March 2007, Network Rail was fined ?4 million for its portion in an infrastructural catastrophe straight attributed to its operations direction: as Tait studies, ‘…Network Rail, which took on Railtrack ‘s liabilities…pleaded guilty to a individual count of transgressing wellness and safety Torahs in the runup to the fatal clang. Prosecutors told the tribunal this hebdomad that there had been a “ catalogue of failures ” – and that the jobs had “ started with the civilization at the top of the organic structure responsible for the path and affected staff at all degrees of the administration ” .’ ( Tait 2007 ) As Tyrrall indicates, ‘…the accident record since denationalization contrasts unfavorably with the record under BR after Clapham Junction ( 1988 ) , but non by comparing with a longer history of UK rail accidents.’ ( Tyrrall 2006: p.110 ) . However, when one considers the tremendous technological and regulative derived functions inherent in the latter comparing, any collateral which might be claimed for Network Rail over its nationalised ancestors appears spurious.

Network Rail’s – and the government’s – discomposure is non without case in point elsewhere, although the value of direct comparing evidently diminishes in the visible radiation of confusing variables. For illustration, India’s railroad system hovers likewise between force per unit areas for denationalization and the care of an indispensable public service. As theEconomistreveals, its ‘…“operating ratio”—operating costs as a proportion of revenues—which had climbed near to 100 % by the beginning of this century, has fallen to 92.5 % . …not adequate to cover depreciation, care and enlargement. Nor can the railroads rely on… authorities bail-outs at a clip when India ‘s overall financial shortage ( at more than 10 % of GDP ) risks going unsustainable. Yet the railroad system has been losing clients to an bettering route web, doing it difficult to see how its fundss will of all time improve.’ The of import point for comparing here is that, despite this, vested railroad involvements have small trouble in earning support from a scope of sentiment across Indian society, someway besieging the ineluctable logic of the balance sheets. As theEconomiststudies, much of the dissension is between economic experts looking at the railroads as a concern, and dedicated civil retainers looking at what they still see as a public public-service corporation and societal service. As one senior railroad official…puts it, “if you moved to a concern theoretical account, Indian Railways would collapse.”.’ ( Unattributed,The Economist,2003 )



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‘The support bundle for Network Rail, proprietor of the UK’s rail substructure, for 2009-14 includes money for work to let longer trains to run on many of the region’s paths. Platforms will be lengthened and power supply enhanced along the Tilbury cringle on the Fenchurch St line to let operation of 12-carriage trains. Similar work will be undertaken around Gravesend on the south side of the river. ( Wright 25.11.08 )

‘The Regulators and Franchising Director’s responsibilities imply relationships with the authorities, with each other, with the proprietors and operators of the substructure, with proprietors and operators of trains, and with each other. In each relationship, there will be points that are politically combative ; badly-handled activities could endanger either the success of denationalization or the hereafter of the railroad system ( or both ) . ( Glaister and Travers 1993: p.55 )

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‘There are many other facets of trade name or a company’s repute that can impact a company, including its repute amongst its concern clients, staff, providers, stockholders and regulators.’ ( Carbon Trust 2005: p.22 )


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