Rail franchises to cover infra

The private sector will have a much greater role in the delivery of track infrastructure on British railways under new plans published by the Department for Transport.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has set out plans to bring the operation of trains and track closer together, as he looks to deliver the next “evolution” of rail franchising.

Under the plans, joined-up teams will run both the trains and the track infrastructure, with the East Coast Partnership to be the first franchise to use the model. That franchise will be developed over the next two years, before being let to a private sector consortium in 2020.

According to the government, the private partner in the East Coast Partnership “will have a leading role in defining future plans for route infrastructure”.

Grayling said in the document's foreword: “We will also bring more private sector finance, funding and expertise on board to help provide capacity for the future.”

He added: “Our plans go further than ever before to...get private and public sectors working more closely together to increase performance, and rebuild the railway around the customer.”

The document sets out the government's vision for development of the railway over the next two Control Periods, with Control Period 6 (2019-24) seeing “a new generation of long-term integrated regional rail partnerships”, plus “new partners for infrastructure development, design and delivery” and “new sources of funding and financing unlocking improvements”.

The reforms build on the work of the Hansford Review, which promoted the use of third party and private sector investment into the rail network, including using versions of the PFI model.

For an in-depth look at what the Hansford Review might mean for the PPP market, see the November issue of Partnerships Bulletin, out now, orclick here