Network Rail is the owner, operator and infrastructure manager of Britain’s main railway network. It runs, maintains and develops the core physical infrastructure of the network and has to ensure efficient management of the assets over the short, medium and long-term. While managing the existing fabric of the network, and ensuring its safe use, its role is also to support and implement new initiatives and upgrades, overseeing investment committed to the development of the railways.
In 2014, Network Rail was reclassified as an arm’s length central government body, operating under a licence issued by the Secretary of State for Transport and retaining responsibility for the ownership and stewardship of its network. It is accountable to its customers and funded through a mixture of access revenue, paid to it by the train operating companies, and receives money from the government grants.
Network Rail owns and manages London Waterloo Station, Britain’s busiest station and one of the country’s most used railways, with over 100 million passenger journeys on the railway to and from London Waterloo every year.
In 2012, Network Rail delivered a new £25 million balcony for London Waterloo- a new retail and dining destination within the station’s main concourse – which resulted in an increase of 27 per cent in like for like sales in the first year, as well as increased passenger satisfaction.
As part of its current Wessex Improvement Programme, Network Rail is also investing £800m to improve and increase the capacity of the station and improve passenger services. Work on the Waterloo and South West Upgrade started in April 2016 when Network Rail began developing the former Waterloo International Terminal for domestic services. The re-introduction of disused platforms and tracks will deliver a 30 per cent increase in station capacity and development of the lower levels where arrivals and departures once operated will further enhance station facilities.
The project is expected to be completed by December 2018 and will provide the biggest package of improvements to London Waterloo since the 1930s.