Page 1: Introduction
When people think of rail travel they think of trains. They do not think about the infrastructure of the train network. This consists of countless bridges, viaducts, embankments, cuttings and tunnels.
Background to Network Rail
Independent companies built the first railways in the 19th century. From midnight on 31st December 1947 the government took control of the railway industry and British Rail ran it. In 1994 the railway industry was privatised and its services franchised to train operating companies such as Virgin and First Group. Responsibility for the infrastructure passed to a new plc called Railtrack. In 2002, the government transferred the assets and business of Railtrack to a new not-for-dividend company Network Rail.
When Network Rail was created it needed to invest in the tracks and services. Since 2002, it has made many improvements. For example, in 2005 it replaced or repaired over 700 miles of rail. Network Rail is a company limited by guarantee with a board of directors but no shares or shareholders. Instead, it has unpaid stakeholder 'members' who check standards of corporate governanceand monitor performance.