Network Rail: Manpower

Transport written question – answered on 30th March 2010.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what discussions he has had with Network Rail on the effects on (a) efficiency and (b) safety levels of its planned (i) staff reductions and (ii) new working practices.

Photo of Chris Mole Chris Mole Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

Staffing is an operational matter for Network Rail. Network Rail is required by the independent Office of Rail Regulation to deliver substantial efficiency savings and improvements for the operation, maintenance and renewal of the network over the next five years.

Ministers have been advised of Network Rail's proposed restructuring of its maintenance function in the course of routine meetings with the company. Network Rail will seek to minimise compulsory redundancies, and to achieve most job losses through targeted voluntary redundancies and redeployment of existing staff into other roles of the business-as part of revised working practices.

The Office of Rail Regulation is responsible for assessing that Network Rail's activities and change programmes do not put at risk the safety of passengers and the workforce. Ministers have regular discussions with the Office of Rail Regulation, which includes these subjects.

The Office of Rail Regulation is also responsible for monitoring Network Rail's delivery of its regulated requirement to improve the safety of the railway by 3 per cent. by 2014.

On 3 March the Office of Rail Regulation announced the outcome of its review of Network Rail's proposals for the restructuring of its maintenance function. It made clear that it supports Network Rail's goal of introducing greater efficiency into its maintenance practices in ways that sustain and improve safety.

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