Network Rail has confirmed that it will use the freedoms presented by next year’s Brexit to cut needless costs.
As reported in last year’s September/October edition of Workers, there has been a very expensive “overengineering” of new electrification works, particularly on the Paddington-Cardiff route – driven by Network Rail’s obligation to comply with completely unnecessary EU standards.
The work could have been done considerably cheaper if the EU standards were ignored and the new equipment was to a similar standard as existing British standard equipment.
Now, Network Rail has seen the benefits of Brexit. A spokesperson has said: “We want the best of both worlds — trade that enables us to realise the benefits of low-cost (standardised) supplied products together with the freedom to not apply Euro standards where they drive unnecessary cost into the UK railway.” And this newly realised freedom will not just apply to electrification equipment.
Commenting on Network Rail’s announcement, Mark Phillips, chief executive of the Rail Safety and Standards Board, has said that Brexit might also act as a catalyst for reforming the rail franchise system.
Phillips criticised the rail industry’s lack of investment in research and development compared to automotive and aviation investment in new battery technology and artificial intelligence. He said, “The structure of the industry, with its five- to seven-year franchises, discouraged long-term planning and investment: “People are only interested in the here and now. They’re not inclined to invest for the long term…”
The Board’s director of research and development has slammed the train operators’ refusal to adopt technology which would improve the braking of trains during autumn when there are leaves on the line. Why would they? They receive lucrative payments from public sector Network Rail for such delays!
Brexit will of course allow the renationalisation of the railways, something that the EU would not permit.