Assessment of rail networks

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is the economic and safety regulator for Great Britain's railways and works to improve rail safety, value, and performance. ORR recognised that it needed to adapt its approach to facilitate efficient and co-ordinated development and operation of the railway network. While decisions about the number of Infrastructure Managers (IMs) are not within ORR's control, the structural change could potentially create a number of risks. It was these potential risks that ORR wished to identify and solve. Royal HaskoningDHV was appointed by ORR to provide international rail-specific case studies and help the organisation to understand how other countries have approached similar issues. 

Drawing on international experience and expertise

Royal HaskoningDHV identified and researched three separate case studies to cover a range of different scenarios which could potentially occur in the UK in the near future. We gathered these case studies using a combination of research and a series of interviews held with key stakeholders.

The first case study covered how interfaces between national IMs are managed on one of the so-called European Rail Freight Corridors: The Rhine-Alpine Corridor. The second examined Switzerland where there are multiple IMs and train operating companies working successfully together to provide a high density, high quality railway system for end-users. Finally, the third case study analysed the Betuweroute in the Netherlands – a freight line stretching from Rotterdam to the German border. Initially, this line was managed separately by a special purchase vehicle (SPV) responsible for infrastructure management. However, this was revised and Betuweroute is once again brought under the remit of the Dutch national IM ProRail.

Based on a SWOT analysis, we identified six potential impacts of these interfaces:

  • Safety
  • Technical interoperability
  • Allocation of capacity
  • Train performance
  • Enhancements to the network capability
  • Delivery of maintenance and operational activities

Digital iReport

Our analysis, recommendations and conclusions were published in an iReport which also contained substantial background information on the three separate case studies. In response to this work, Martin Legget, Senior Policy Advisor at ORR commented.

“Royal HaskoningDHV undertook an excellent piece of work producing case studies on the interfaces between rail infrastructure managers across Europe. They were able to make contact with excellent sources all across rail industry and demonstrated a thorough understanding of all elements of the railway system. The result was a very effective report which met my requirements.”
Martin Legget, Senior Policy Advisor at ORR commented

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Peter Boom

Director Rail Asset Management and Digitisation

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