The chief regulator for the railways, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has launched an Independent Inquiry into the disruption suffered across the network in the past month.
In May, a new timetable was implemented which, it was said, would increase the number of trains running each day by 13%.
Part of the RailPlan20/20, the new timetable was predicted to provide almost 400 extra trains every day, providing space for 50,000 more passengers into London each day.
However, what were seen as teething problems at the start, which included cancellations and delays, has turned into a widespread crisis, with extensive disruption for passengers of GTR and Northern passengers in particular.
In the case of Northern, it has led to emergency timetables, which has actually resulted in less trains each day and the sight of packed carriages and platforms is all too common.
The ORR therefore will head an Independent Inquiry into the failed implementation of the new timetables, which was expected to deliver benefits from major investment in the rail network.
The Independent Inquiry will look at the factors that have contributed to the failure to introduce an operational timetable that is satisfactory; reach conclusions about managing risks created by the network changes; and make recommendations to the industry before future network changes.
ORR Chair, Professor Stephen Glaister CBE will head the Inquiry. He said: “A considerable amount of time was spent planning these changes so it is disappointing that the industry could not make the new timetable work. ORR does not set or approve the railway timetable; we will therefore look at this issue independently and dispassionately.
“While I want the Inquiry to proceed at pace, it is important to be thorough and impartial. We will collect evidence from a range of organisations, including passenger representatives such as Transport Focus, and be supported by an expert panel of external advisers.
“This advisory panel will also challenge whether the ORR’s own role, as regulator of Network Rail and of the train operating companies, has been properly assessed by the Inquiry.”
The initial findings will be published in September, with a full report expected by the end of the year.”