Network Rail’s Control Period 7 is fast approaching, with a start date of April 2024.
With the ORR P23 review currently underway and the announcement that Great British Railways will be taking over responsibility for period outcomes from CP7, it is important to understand exactly what Control Period 7 is, how it will be affected by the William-Schapps Plan for Rail and how to prepare to ensure targets of efficiency, safety and asset management are achieved.
What is a Control Period?
Control periods are the 5 year periods laid out by Network Rail, who operate the largest proportion of Great Britain’s Rail Infrastructure. Control periods are used by Network Rail to plan for financial investments and upgrades that will take priority within the timeframe.
Each control period starts on the 1st of April and ends the 31st of March to keep alignment with the financial year. We are currently in Control Period 6 which began in April 2019 and will continue to run until March 2024.
Control period 7 is due to begin on April 1st 2024 to 2029.
What is expected to be included in Control Period 7 ?
Although it is not completely known what will be included in the new Control Period, it is thought that the entire development plan will focus on the delivery of a rail plan which delivers an improved delivery service for passengers and freight.
It is also thought that CP7 will focus on the following:
- Improved safety: With the introduction of the new Network Rail Fatigue Management Standards happening in CP6. It is clear that a more proactive approach will be taken to ensure the safe conditions of the railway.
- Improved Performance: As a large part of CP7’s planned works and budgets will center around the delivery of HS2 and the Integrated Rail Plan it is expected that the new CP7 period will focus heavily on providing a more reliable and punctual rail service to all.
- Asset Sustainability and Prolongment: In line with the Network Rail carbon zero target hoping to be achieved by 2040, during CP7 it is expected that there will be a greater focus on asset lifespan in order to ensure greatest value from the asset is achieved.
- Greater Efficiency: During CP7 Network Rail or their successor (see section 4) will be held accountable for achieving efficiency targets.
How will Control Period 7 outcomes be monitored?
The outcomes of Network Rail’s Control Period are decided by the ORR regulatory body. The process is decided by the ORR regulatory body in a process known as the Periodic review. The Periodic Review of 2023 (PR23) will be a 5 year settlement which will decide the level of funding that Network Rail will receive for the maintenance and renewals activities laid out for CP7. The ORR is solely responsible for making the final decision on the amount of funding that Network Rail will receive over the 5 year period.
Additionally, the PR23, lays out a framework which ensures the ORR is able to hold Network Rail to account for delivering expected plans for CP7. Having this transparency and element of accountability within the process also provides stability within a period of heavy change.
Within the control period, an annual assessment is published, containing details of Network Rail’s delivery progress. After this review, any areas of concern are raised directly to Network Rail, who are expected to modify and change delivery plans to provide confidence to stakeholders.
In the build up to CP7, the ORR has already approved the investment of £35 billion, as requested by Network Rail.
It is expected that the ORR will focus on three key themes when reviewing and setting out the PR23 framework:
- Delivering the best outcomes for passengers - Within CP7 there is expected to be a focus surrounding driving down costs for passengers to facilitate the goals of the 30 year rail plan to achieve a sustainable rail network.
- Adapting to change and uncertainty - Due to the announcements made within the William Schappes Plan for Rail, the need for flexibility will be vital within the CP7 programme. As of yet no definite forecasts of passenger capacities and revenues have been made, which may suggest a mid period review.
- Supporting integrated decision making of governments - A key focus of the P23 is expected to be helping the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments make key decisions and navigate the financial difficulties currently being faced by the rail industry.
“The ORR’s five-year funding settlement for Britain’s rail infrastructure will ensure long-term investment to deliver reliable services for both passengers and freight users, and value for money for customers and taxpayers”
How to recognise long term efficiencies and maximize productivity opportunities
By digitising the site reporting process, Raildiary provides teams with the structured commercial intelligence needed to unlock productivity opportunities and monitor asset condition, in line with the goals of P23 and CP7.
Using Raildiary’s new Siteview feature, teams working within Control Period 7 will be able to plot and view images on a map of the project. This can then be shared with Network Rail and Great British Railways, allowing them to fully understand the condition of assets without a huge paperwork burden.
The real time visibility of data collected on site means that teams are able to manage and mitigate delay and change in real time, identify risks and opportunities and intervene sooner. The ability to navigate problems before they arrive will allow for projects in CP7 to be delivered at a much greater efficiency.
In conclusion, preparing for Network Rail's Control Period 7 (CP7) requires a strategic approach and careful consideration of a range of factors. As the rail industry looks towards this new period of investment and innovation, there are several key steps that asset owners, suppliers, and other stakeholders can take to ensure they are ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
One of the most important steps is to engage with Network Rail and other industry bodies to understand the latest developments and requirements. This includes staying up-to-date with changes to funding and procurement processes, as well as any updates to standards or regulations that may impact asset management and maintenance.
Asset owners and suppliers should also take the time to assess their current capabilities and identify any areas for improvement. This includes reviewing existing processes and systems, as well as evaluating the skills and training of their staff.
Another key consideration is the use of digital technologies to improve asset management and maintenance. From sensors and data analytics to artificial intelligence and machine learning, these technologies can help asset owners and suppliers optimize asset performance, reduce costs, and improve reliability.
Overall, preparing for Network Rail's CP7 requires a collaborative and strategic approach, with asset owners, suppliers, and other stakeholders working together to identify areas for improvement and implement new solutions. By embracing digital technologies and staying up-to-date with the latest developments, the rail industry can continue to innovate and deliver reliable, efficient, and sustainable transportation infrastructure for years to come.