The need for a strategic approach on the railways to the management of the vehicle-track interface

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Network Rail's decision in 2003 to bring track maintenance back in-house was long-overdue recognition that responsibility for safety on Britain's railways cannot be abdicated - but there was more to it than that. The accidents at Hatfield and Potter's Bar (both in Hertfordshire, UK), in particular, had exposed very vividly how privatisation had encouraged each now separated and competing part of the industry to operate in its own interests: records, data and expertise were fragmented, and track and train operators alike each sought to minimise their individual costs in isolation. This paper argues from a systems analysis perspective that, on vehicle and track maintenance at least, the overall costs to the industry are in such circumstances likely to be higher than if the various parties were to work together towards minimising total track and train maintenance costs between them. Far from increasing efficiency, privatisation had the effect of reducing it.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-908
Number of pages12
JournalTechnology Analysis and Strategic Management
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • operations management railways, maintenance management, fragmentation, strategic management, privatisation