Memorandum by Amey Rail (FOR 112)
THE FUTURE OF THE RAILWAYS
1. My name is Collin Carr, I am a Chartered
Civil Engineer and I have worked in the rail industry for 28 years.
I am the Engineering Director of Amey Rail, a leading provider
of maintenance and renewal services to Network Rail. Amey Rail
is a subsidiary of Amey Group, now wholly owned by Ferrovial,
who are Europe's second largest construction company.
2. I will deal with the questions posed
from Amey's perspective.
(1) Is the Regulator right, or is rail an
outmoded form of transport?
3. It is our view that Rail is not an outmoded
form of transport.
Investment in Europe and Japan demonstrates
that with the right investment, rail can be a fast, highly efficient,
highly competitive, safe and environment friendly form of transport.
Undoubtedly, the completion of the first stage of the Channel
Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) will support this.
4. However, although the rail industry has
undergone considerable change over many years, strategic technical
innovation has been limited. For example, this might require the
construction of new lines, it might mean the closure or re-routing
of some old ones, but as part of a long-term coherent strategy.
This is also a critical requirement for the people who we will
need to attract to a career in the railways.
5. If, however, our railways are allowed
to standstill without a clear focus and direction, deterioration
will follow, cost will increase and return on investment will
6. Rail must be able to compete with the
car and the aeroplane and the present value of rail can only be
viewed in terms of the role that it plays in the wider national
transport system. It is environmentally friendly, and the public's
expectation is for an efficient, affordable and safe system. Current
network usage (which I understand is the highest for many years)
is a demonstration of the value that they place on the rail network.
7. It is our view that fast intercity services
extending into Europe are required. Also, urban and suburban railways
that dovetail into local integrated transport systems, freight
services and rail links with key locations such as airports, are
wanted now and in the future.
(2) Is the present network the right one?
If not, how should it be changed?
8. Much of the present network is right
and this can be demonstrated by the heavy and increasing use.
However, over-capacity is clearly a problem and it is recognised
that there is an urgent need to introduce new signalling systems
that will increase the capacity of the existing network. Also,
many junctions and other bottlenecks in the system need to be
engineered out and could bring about significant improvement for
the capital outlay. It would be foolish to think that anything
built over a period of 100 years, could match present day needs
perfectly, given everything that has changed in that time.
9. The industry needs clear leadership and
direction. The creation of Network Rail and the Strategic Rail
Authority (SRA), are certainly a forward step, and are starting
to give the direction those of us responsible for improving the
quality of the network infrastructure require. However, there
are many other entities within the industry, for example, the
train operating companies, Rolling Stock Operating Companies (ROSCOS)
and infrastructure maintenance and renewal contractors such as
ourselves. These organisations all need to be involved in developing
common strategies and setting of these objectives so that all
understand the consequences. The Rail/Wheel Interface Strategic
Authority is a good example of this working together.
10. In its current form, the network is
not capable of delivering all the demands that are placed on it.
In some locations, the system is running at or near capacity.
One of the consequences of this is that there is insufficient
time put aside within the timetable for cost effective maintenance
to take place. This often results in system failure and associated
11. As indicated earlier significant improvement
in capacity can be achieved by improving signalling systems and
network bottlenecks. These need to be considered alongside the
development of acceptable diversionary routes to ensure a robust
(3) What traffic is the network best used
12. We think that the Network is best used
High speed, inter-city long and medium
distance passenger services.
Quick, high density, medium to short
distance urban and suburban passenger flows, working with the
conurbation developing integrated transport systems.
Various categories of freight traffic
that meets the customer needs but has flexibility to accommodate
other traffic flows.
13. These traffic flows need to be weighted
to ensure that the best use of the Network is offered. For example,
it might be prudent to discontinue a traffic flow to ensure that
the infrastructure is maintained for reliable, high speed running.
14. It needs to be understood nevertheless,
that mixed traffic railways are more expensive to maintain than
dedicated traffic routes, which we understand is more common elsewhere.
(4) How does our network compare with other
railways, and what lessons can we learn from other countries?
15 Comparison with other networks is extremely
complex due to differing societal priorities, operating conditions
and third party influences. Where we perhaps lead, is in ensuring
the availability of a deteriorating network. We achieve much on
a highly utilised, fragile network.
16. Other networks, such as in the USA,
deliver reliability and cost optimisation by closing major parts
of the network for longer periods to enable maintenance "blitzes".
This ensures high productivity and reliability. This approach
known as "blockades" is being used in the UK to a much
lesser extent. Arguably this option could only be considered where
viable alternative rail routes are available; this could require
the development of new routes.
17. Greater integrated transport appears
to be delivered in other countries. Our network could perform
a better service if it is integrated into other transport initiatives
such as Trams, Park & Ride, Congestion Charging, Underground
Systems etc. However this integrated service is only viable if
all aspects operate reliably. Also, the structure gauge of many
other Networks allows the use of "Double Decker" commuter
trains. This would require substantial investment for the UK Network.
18. Private investment funding appears to
have been used to good effect in other countries, delivering Design,
Build, Finance Operate/Transfer solutions to infrastructure requirements.
The SRA objective of creating Special Purpose Vehicles may encourage
this, if risk and reward is appropriately managed.
19. In our view what is most needed is a
clear strategy for the railway industry and its network. Whatever
the funding it must be spent in the most cost effective way in
support of the strategy.
20. Given a clear strategy, those of us
in the industry who support Network Rail can also then invest
with certainty not just in our equipment and technology, but also
in the next generation of engineers and other staff, improving
our efficiency and value for money, and significantly improving
the quality of the rail network.