Network Rail has announced its intention to create a new devolved business unit dedicated to serve Wales.
Says Network Rail’s chief executive, David Higgins, said: “Network Rail has saved money and transformed the railway through central control but to make further improvements in Wales we now need to increase responsiveness at a local level by operating with a one-Wales strategy.
“We’re devolving accountability so that we can get closer to our customers and be in a better position to deliver improvements to passengers and freight users, while forging stronger ties with the Welsh Assembly Government to unlock any untapped potential on the railway.
“The Wales route managing director will, in effect, be running their own infrastructure railway business with significant annual turnover and resources. This represents a significant change of emphasis to give our people on the routes the ability and the means to deliver a bigger, better, more affordable railway. However, we’re determined not to undermine the progress that has been made, but to build on the strengths of what we’ve achieved.
“There will continue to be a critical role for a supporting centre that helps make the most of economies of scale. The railway still needs to be planned and operated as a network which operates seamlessly. And we must maintain the company’s focus on efficient and effective management of long-life railway assets.”
This move is part of the company’s latest drive to increase its responsiveness at a local level and will create a new Wales route for the very first time in railway history. The Wales business unit will oversee the management and operation of the railway in south Wales, mid Wales, north Wales and the Marches from a regional headquarter in Cardiff.
Historically, the railway in Wales was built and operated by separate companies including the Great Western Railway and the London, Midland and Scottish company.