The UK’s rail infrastructure company Network Rail has cut around 500 roles from its Track Renewal Services (TRS) arm, despite recent advice from the Office of Rail and Road that it should instead invest £600m in the crucial team. 

Network Rail said it will reduce staff numbers for the ‘Control Period 7 (CP7), April 2024-March 2029’ due to expected “lower demand” for the renewals unit over the next five years. 

There are currently 794 roles within TRS, to be cut to just 263. However, 202 of those jobs have not been filled, so 269 redundancies will be made. 

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We know there’s going to be lower demand for the specialist track renewal services we offer in the next five years (CP7), as we invest in our infrastructure in other ways, so we’ve begun consulting with our colleagues and trades unions on changes to restructure and re-size some of our teams accordingly.”

The UK rail workers union, the RMT, said it was another case of “slash and burn” in the sector. 

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “These cuts represent further significant Network Rail cutbacks at a time when the industry needs to be developing its skill base not outsourcing the work to privateers.

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“We have seen the impact of de-skilling and outsourcing on our railway network, a decline in safety and an increase in profiteering which combine to create a deadly concoction for workers and passengers alike,” he added. 

In its advice to Network Rail, published in June 2023, the proposed: “Network Rail increases spend on core assets for the GB rail network by £600 million. This would be funded by rephasing or reprioritising expenditure from areas ORR considers of lower importance. It aims to ensure assets are managed sustainably to better deliver on safety, performance, asset sustainability and efficiency.”