The number of public members of the Network Rail board has been reduced from 80 to 40.
Quarterly scrutiny panels underline a new commitment to transparency. The new moves came into effect at the Annual General Meeting held in July. At the AGM David Higgins, Network Rail’s chief executive, reported good punctuality at 91.6 per cent – better safety and a 24 per cent drop in the number of infrastructure failures since the start of the control period, April 2009.
Higgins predicts that by 2014 the British and Scottish governments will have received a rebate of around £310 million as a result of Network Rail’s successful cost savings. However more passengers and increased freight make it a challenge.
Says Sir David Higgins, ‘We are acutely aware of the need for us and our industry partners to reduce the costs of our railway both for the taxpayer and the fare payer. We are making good progress, whilst grappling with the continued growth in passenger and freight demand and balancing the trade-offs between cost, performance and capacity.’
The rail industry carried 1.46 billion passengers last year on 7.3 million trains – half a billion more passengers on one million more trains than 10 years ago. These are figures not seen since the 1920s. ‘Network Rail is doing well. The company and its 34,000 people continue to work hard to deliver against some tough targets and deliver a good, reliable railway for the British people.
‘We can never be complacent and there are improvements and gains yet to be made,’ said Mr Higgins who welcomed the government’s plans to spend £9 billion on infrastructure projects as, ‘a big vote of confidence.’ There was a 100 per cent vote in favour of the new governance model.