Network Rail, the owner and operator of Britain’s railway infrastructure, will be assessing interest in its electrical power assets from potential global investors and electricity network operators.
This latest move, designed to explore the potential for bringing in new capital and expertise to support future investment, is a key part of Network Rail’s strategy to benchmark its competitiveness against the market, maximise commercial opportunities and inject private capital into the railway to help fund investment.
It is in addition to plans already underway to raise £1.8bn – primarily from property sales – to help fund Network Rail’s five-year, £40bn Railway Upgrade Plan to build a bigger, better more reliable railway. The number of passengers on Britain’s railways is growing faster than anywhere in Europe, but the network is also the most congested – so significant investment is needed to build capacity for more trains.
Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said:
“Continuing the historically high levels of investment in our railway that we’ve seen over the last decade is absolutely vital if we’re to provide the railway Britain needs in the years ahead. Better railways drive economic growth, housing and jobs.
“Our approach is all about financial discipline, with a renewed focus on our core activities while being open and innovative about new sources of finance to fund our growing railway.
“Network Rail’s job is to help support Britain’s economic growth by providing the railway that Britain needs, today and in the future. While no decisions have yet been made, if there are investors or others with expertise in key areas who can help us do that, then we should look to embrace those opportunities.”
Financial reform is one of three broad changes set out in Network Rail’s response to the Shaw Report scoping document which will help the rail industry rise to the challenges ahead, alongside further devolution to route businesses and accelerated technological transformation to deliver the capacity needed to cater for future demand.