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The Sunday Telegraph this morning previewed Conservative plans to put representatives of passengers on the board of Network Rail and allow the
rail regulator to deprive executives of bonuses in the case of poor performances.

Theresa Villiers has now released the following further details of the proposals:

Reforming Network Rail

  • We will create a supervisory board for Network Rail by reducing the size of the existing membership body to 10 to 20 people, with a stronger voice for passengers and train operators.
  • The supervisory board will have the power to hold Network Rail’s management to account, including setting the overall strategy for the company and the power to approve and remove senior executives.
  • The majority of the board will be made up of independent members (with a strong background in business) and passenger representatives. The remaining members will be drawn from within the rail industry and include representatives of Open Access, Freight and Passenger Train Operators.
  • The board will be appointed independently of Network Rail’s senior management.

Ensure Network Rail targets are representative of operators’ needs.

  • We will work with the regulator to ensure that the targets
    and requirements set by the regulator are demanding and match the
    concerns of train operators and passengers as closely as possible.

Veto on Senior Executives’ bonuses.

  • We will give the regulator enhanced powers to block bonuses
    to senior executives in the event of serious persistent failure, or
    failure to respond effectively to new tougher requirements for
    passenger satisfaction.
  • Last year, despite the shambles of the New Year engineering
    overruns, Network Rail senior executives took home £835,000 in bonuses
    and the only sanction faced by the company was a fine which was paid by
    the taxpayer. The net result of the fining process was £14 million less
    spent on the railways.

Innovation in delivering rail improvements.

  • We will free up funding for smaller scale capacity
    improvements, currently dealt with by Network Rail to competitive bids
    from other providers, including train operating companies, local
    authorities and Community Rail Partnerships.
  • This will provide better value for money and provide a useful
    benchmark for Network Rail’s work. It will also help ensure that these
    smaller schemes – which can make such a difference to the quality of
    life for commuters – are carried out efficiently and in response to
    passenger demand.

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