Investing in Rail

We’re making it easier for other organisations to invest in, and build on the railway.

Providing valuable opportunities for other organisations to invest in, and build on the railway reduces the tax-payer burden. The increased competition drives down cost, while also increasing efficiency, creativity and innovation.

As Network Rail owns and operates Britain’s railway we can get viewed by other organisations wishing to invest or build on the railway as a gatekeeper and difficult to work with. So we commissioned the Hansford Review to investigate how we could remove barriers and make it easier for other organisations. We are now implementing the recommendations of the Hansford Review.

Easier to invest

We’re making it easier for other organisations to invest in the railway. We’ve published a list of opportunities for third parties to fund, finance or deliver improvements and have committed to keeping it regularly updated. We’re introducing contestability and offering projects out to market which previously only Network Rail could deliver. To support this new way of working, we’re increasing our capacity and capability by putting in place a dedicated project financing team who can facilitate and manage the extra interest from the market. And a new team of business development directors stationed across the country, will guide investors through their project from start to finish.

Easier to work with

Our responsibility to run and maintain a safe railway can mean other organisations feel we are difficult to work with when delivering railway projects. Recognising this, we are implementing a number of reforms to break down barriers and make it easier to work with us. We are reviewing and amending our standards, practices and approach to risk management governing how we work with other organisations wishing to build on or near the railway. Our asset protection and optimisation teams will operate under a new framework, with new service level commitments, and under new leadership, which will bring better working practices, streamlined and consistent processes, and a slicker, less bureaucratic structure under a more consistent framework.

Easier to get involved

Railway projects are run to a prescriptive set of detailed requirements known as ‘standards.’ Though they underpin how the delivery of improvement projects are run, they are often seen as overly complex and adding unnecessary cost. So we are updating and streamlining our railway standards to reduce both complexity and cost, and to encourage innovation. We have also introduced a standards challenge process so other organisations can proactively suggest better ways of maintaining and enhancing the railway.

What we’re trying to encourage

We’re looking for investment from other organisations – both public and private – to upgrade the railway where it will benefit them. The Port of Felixstowe for example, are helping to pay for a new section of track that will alleviate a bottleneck and increase capacity for freight.

Freight trains at Felixstowe port
The Port of Felixstowe is partly funding the building of a stretch of railway to relieve a bottleneck and increase freight capacity

Learning from lessons library

To help share knowledge across the industry, improve processes, reduce cost and speed-up the delivery of our projects, we’ve opened-up our ‘learning from lessons’ library to the entire industry. The library is an online repository of lessons, pictures, videos and documents from a wide range of projects and major programmes, including those of our delivery partners. It showcases best practice, but also highlights where we could do better so future projects can improve. You will need to register to request access to the learning from lessons library and complete a short training session if you want to upload content.

The progress Network Rail has made in developing its Open for Business programme is very welcome. The organisation has taken clear steps to becoming more business-focused and open to third party investment in rail projects, as recommended by the Hansford Review. This is a shift the rail supply community wholeheartedly supports, and which rail businesses are keen to get involved in.

David Clarke, technical director, Railway Industry Association (RIA)

Contact details

If you are interested in investing in or building on the railway, please contact your local business development director. Their details can be found on the opportunities for third parties page.

Useful resources and downloads

A list of resources for third parties interested in investing in or building on the railway can be found on our downloads for third parties page.