The head of the team looking into the future structure of Network Rail has rubbished claims that the privatisation of the government-owned body is a foregone conclusion, saying this was “absolutely not the case”.
Emil Levenfoglu, who is leading the day-to-day work on the government-commissioned Shaw report, said his team had taken on arguments from all sides and the report was not an exercise in forcing the privatisation of the rail operator.
The report, which is being fronted by High Speed 1 chief executive Nicola Shaw, was launched last July following the pausing of work on major parts of Network Rail’s CP5 investment programme due to “rising costs and missed targets”.
Recent reports have suggested the former HS1 boss will recommend the partial break-up and full privatisation of Network Rail.
But Mr Levenfoglu said: “There has been a perception in some quarters that this is a front in how to look at different ways to reprivatise Network Rail. That is absolutely not the case and we want to be clear about that.”
He said the report team had held dozens of consultation events across the country and read more than 10,000 written responses. “Nicola Shaw has set a very clear mission to gain consensus across the industry, something that everyone can buy into,” he added.
“Stakeholders won’t agree with every element of her suggestions, but if there is a broad consensus then that makes it much easier for everyone to get behind and make it work.”
Mr Levenfoglu also suggested the scope of the report was likely to extend beyond Network Rail, with the future role of railways regulator the Office of Road and Rail also expected to come under the spotlight.
“Nicola took the view that while she was clearly going to focus on her core areas, infrastructure management and Network Rail, there would be other areas that would be important to look at and consider in terms of what the future direction of these areas should be.
“Regulation is clearly one of those areas that needs to be reviewed and we are working closely with the Department for Transport and ORR in thinking about how it might work.”
The report is set to be published ahead of chancellor George Osborne’s Budget on 16 March.
See Construction News on Monday for a special report on the future of Network Rail