A report by HS1 chief executive Nicola Shaw has “dismissed” suggestions of any imminent plans to privatise Network Rail.
Shaw was commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) last year to assess whether the current structure and financing model for Network Rail were meeting the needs of passengers and freight users.
One rumour was that the report could go as far as to recommend the total privatisation of Network Rail, something Shaw has rejected entirely.
Shaw does, however, believe the private sector should play a bigger role in funding the modernisation and renewal of the railway.
In the report, Shaw said: “The railway remains a growing and dynamic industry. However, in a fiscally constrained environment, the government has to make difficult decisions about what railway schemes it can afford to fund.
“The private sector therefore has a part to play in supplementing the resources available to invest and grow the railway to meet social and economic needs.”
The report made a number recommendations, one of which advocates Network Rail’s devolution strategy, calling for it to go even further to deliver a “step-change in the degree of autonomy” and flexibility.
Shaw also said the government needed to clarify its role with both Network Rail and the railway as a whole.
Responding to the report’s findings, Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “I welcome Nicola’s report and her engagement with us and the industry in developing it.
“I’m pleased that she has concluded that the reforms we are introducing in Network Rail are the right ones.
“We are committed to putting passengers and customers at the heart of what we do, and our devolved business model will put decisions in the routes, closer to the passengers and train companies.
“I also endorse her desire to see more private finance coming into the railways. We have been successful with this in the past and I consider that more private money and funding from the people who will benefit from railway improvements is a sensible way to deliver a bigger and better railway for the nation.
“We’ll work with the Department for Transport as they now consider these recommendations and we look forward to a future which I genuinely believe is bright for the railways and for the ever growing number of passengers.”