We are now into the second year of Control Period 5, the five-yearly blocks that Network Rail’s work and funding is split into.

There have been many successes in the first year, with millions of pounds and thousands of workforce-hours having been devoted to enhancements, upgrades and renewals across the network.

Crossrail remains a shining success story for the industry – so far at least – with tunnelling about to finish. The project is already a case study in good governance and project management. The overall programme is 60% complete, running to time and to budget. Elsewhere, electric trains are running between Manchester and Liverpool, new trains are soon to be delivered for the Great Western and East Coast main lines as well as the Thameslink route, and recent franchise hand-overs and renewals have brought with them big promises for the future that should enhance the passenger experience.

There have been more worrying developments too, notably the slow progress on some key electrification projects across the country and knock-on delays to other programmes, as well as continuing pressures on resources. The engineering over-runs over Christmas on a couple of projects, while representing only a small fraction of the total amount of work being done over the period, still generated bad feeling and bad headlines for an industry that has been on the up in recent years.

Stock control in the rail industry is also not where it should be. Other sectors – the car industry, aviation, and especially retail – have taken massive steps forward and rail needs to emulate these recent developments. The benefits could be massive, with costs cut, processes automated and potentially expensive delays averted.

Adam Hewitt is a guest bloger from Rail Technology Magazine

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