One of the recommendations of the Shaw Report last year (see our article) was to create a new route for the North, which would give a greater incentive to improve performance on east-west lines, unlike the current London North West and London North East routes which split the region vertically in half.

Network Rail carried out an in-depth review to see if this was feasible but concluded that the disadvantages (cost, disruption caused by this very significant organisational change, more trains crossing route boundaries) outweighed the benefits.

However, in order to achieve the objectives which underpin the original recommendation, Network Rail are keeping the existing routes but overlaying them with a new Northern investment organisation headed up by a new Managing Director.  Crucially, the new MD will be a single point of contact for key regional funders and stakeholders (like Transport for the North and Rail North) and for the strategy, planning and delivery of investment across the North which could be transformational in the delivery of schemes for the North.

David Brown, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, said "The announcement of this important role which will lead a northern investment organisation within Network Rail and is a major step forward for the North.  It provides both focus and empowerment.  It is a pioneering move.  We welcome this news and look forward to Network Rail working in close collaboration with both Transport for the North and Rail North as, together, we work on delivering transformational change benefitting passengers, freight operators and the economy."

The new MD should be in place between January and March 2017.