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Network Rail to cut 4,000 jobs and save £250m a year by centralising operations

Derek du Preez | Jan. 9, 2013
Network Rail has unveiled huge investment plans to develop the UK’s railway infrastructure between 2014 and 2019, involving the centralisation of its signalling operations to save millions of pounds and drastically reduce its frontline workforce over the next fifteen years.

During 2014/15 it will invest £66 million; £94 million in 2015/16; £67 million in 2016/17; £54 million in 2017/18; and £55 million in 2018/19.

Network Rail is also developing plans to increase its research and development spend between 2014 and 2015, which it plans to complete during summer 2013.

The five year strategy also recognises that consumers will need to interact with the railway network differently to how they do currently, with the increasing rise of smartphones.

"Technology will transform delivery and the way customers interface with the railway. The proliferation of smart phones and mobile devices over the last decade has set a trend for increased real time interaction from consumers that looks set to continue. This is resulting in demands for new information systems and smart ticketing," says Network Rail.

Finally, the document also states that Network Rail will be investing £100 million in new technology to provide remote alert of approaching trains in order to improve the safety of employees working on the tracks.

The document reads: "Protecting the safety of our people when they are working on the track is of critical importance. Historically, a significant number of workers were killed each year working under lookout protection whilst trains were still running."

"The move towards more so-called 'green-zone' working has resulted in an improvement in the safety of our people. However a combination of reduced access time for blocks and a recognition that 'green zone' working also contains risks means that we need to introduce new technology to make a step change in the safety of those working trackside."

RMT, Britain's largest specialist transport union, has said that cutting staff will put consumers' safety at risk.

"Whilst RMT supports any plans to expand and invest in Britain's railways to meet the demands identified by Network Rail you cannot seriously expect to safely increase capacity whilst at the same time the Government is looking to axe key front-line staff on trains, track and stations," said RMT General Secretary Bob Crow.

"If the Government press on with the jobs cuts plans they will simply be cramming more and more people into an overcrowded and unreliable service where safety is compromised and the profits of the private train operators are prioritised . That is a recipe for disaster and would make a mockery of the work that Network Rail have done as a publicly owned body in identifying future capacity needs as rail demand continues to increase year on year."

He added: "It would make far more sense now if Network Rail were given the opportunity to take over rail routes and to run them in the public interest as a public service without the corrosive pressure of delivering a dividend to shareholders."


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