“There is no single reason,” they explain, “but some commentators suggest that the terms of the franchise and the way it is rigidly enforced are too restrictive…. Government needs to be more commercial and offer some flexibility in the franchise model so train companies can respond to future challenges and opportunities in a timely way.”
Improving asset management capabilities could be one way of bringing about this flexibility. Rail companies such as Network Rail have already begun to recognise the importance of asset management and are developing their approaches accordingly.
“Station Asset Management Plans with up to 40-year horizons are also becoming more prevalent as committed obligations,” they continue. “This focus on common asset management approaches, based on whole-life principles and as mandated in the standard, improves the opportunity for partnership working.” They describe the movement as “in its infancy”, but a step in the right direction.
The article moves on to address “the search for value”, an integral part of asset management: “asset management should be used as the means to effectively control and govern assets such that, in delivering against objectives, the optimum balance of cost, risk and performance is pursued”.
The piece concludes: “So CP6 really should be about consolidating the basics and building strong asset management practices. There is a great deal of technological and industrial change coming and franchises (and the wider rail industry) need to be ready to take advantage of them. The key to success will be to ensure that the asset management practices and the frameworks that shape them act to present up to date asset information across multiple control periods so that bidding franchisees can shape, and then deliver, robust and sustainable bids.”
You can read the full article online at issuu.com (pp.81–82).