We’re committed to bringing down barriers to co-operation in the rail industry; by alliancing, we can work more efficiently, with benefits to the taxpayer, passengers and freight users

Alliances are agreements with train operating companies that align behaviours through shared incentives and objectives. Different forms of alliance arrangement will be appropriate for different parts of the railway and we are working with operators and governments on these opportunities.

We expect alliances to gain in importance as refranchising provides a significant opportunity for establishing new alliances.

Alliancing: Network Rail policy statement (PDF)

Working closely with operators

Within Network Rail we have devolved decision making down to route level, allowing for closer collaboration with train operators to deliver services for passengers and freight users, and avoiding a one size fits all approach across the network.

This change had already resulted in much greater bottom up robustness and local ownership of our plans.

Devolution has allowed us to form alliances with our partners, bringing the operation of the trains and the running of the track closer together.

Various forms of alliance have now been established across the country depending on local needs. For example the close alliance with South West Trains and an alliance currently being discussed which will tie in with the ScotRail refranchise in 2015.

Through the refranchising process we will be working with train operators to identify opportunities to improve services for passengers.

Devolution and alliancing are already leading to changes in behaviours at a local level. For example, there is evidence of improved focus on local trade offs and choices. There are also signs of closer collaboration between train operators and the local route teams based on an improving mutual understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the different businesses.

Even in a devolved structure with strong alliances there are important activities which need to be carried out centrally either for network reasons or to exploit scale economies and the benefits of standardisation. The development and transparency of our system operator activities is therefore critical and builds on the progress described above in capacity and performance management.

Our alliances

An alliance has been developed involving the Wessex route (one of our devolved operational regions) and South West Trains.

This has seen the establishment of a joint senior management team in Waterloo to look after both train and track on the Wessex route – a much more joined-up way of working.

Alliance agreement relating to the NRIL Wessex route and SSWT franchise services – redacted (PDF)

The ScotRail Alliance is a close working relationship between Abellio ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland Route. The aim is to improve our railway in Scotland for our customers by working together better. While remaining separate companies, both organisations will work to achieve common aims and objectives led a single managing director and senior management team.

Alliance Framework Agreement: Abellio ScotRail Limited – redacted (PDF)

Fact file

The alliances will be discrete individual agreements with each operator but all the agreements have some common features including:

  • Network Rail and the operator will remain separate entities.
  • Employees will continue to have the same employer with their current terms and conditions.
  • Each company continues to be ultimately accountable for their own areas of responsibility.
  • The interests of other passenger rail companies and freight operators are protected.

The agreements in place commit the companies to working together and to work up specified projects where there is an opportunity for more integrated working and an opportunity to improve the service to passengers or reduce cost. The alliances may look at how stations can be better managed to provide a better service to passengers, how engineering work can be better planned or how improvements to train punctuality can be delivered.