The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is taking action after its half year ‘Network Rail Monitor’ revealed five-year lows in punctuality and reliability.
Responsible for monitoring the performance of Network Rail, the ORR has decided to take action in light of the report – which has the lowest levels of satisfaction recorded in Control Period 5; by doing so, the ORR will inform Network Rail of improvements needed so that better performance is delivered.
The ‘Network Rail Monitor’ covered April to the middle of October this year; factors for the low levels of punctuality and reliability include extreme weather and the well-documented issues that have arisen because of the implementation of the May 2018 timetable, which led to widespread disruption and cancellation of services.
As well as the ‘Network Rail Monitor’, a number of other reviews have been undertaken, highlighting weaknesses with Network Rail’s approach to performance planning and its capability to recover services following incidents.
This, the ORR says, shows that Network Rail is contravening Licence Condition 1: Network Management.
In response to this, Network Rail and the associated route managing directors have to take urgent action to address the failings.
This includes increasing engagement and work with train operators; delivering a report to the ORR by 15 February 2019 detailing reasons for performance; and providing the regulator with subsequent and regular updates on progress in delivering the report.
John Larkinson, Chief Executive of the ORR, said this decision to take action shows the regulator’s willingness to act.
He said: “The decision is a clear demonstration of ORR’s approach to how we will hold Network Rail to account.
“Passengers and freight customers rely on Network Rail for punctual and reliable train services and the evidence we have collected suggests to us that Network Rail is failing to take all reasonable steps to effectively manage performance and recover from incidents on its network.
“This is a capability issue which must be addressed urgently.”
The Monitor has also detailed Network Rail’s progress on delivering Control Period 6 (CP6).
It has revealed progress in establishing more efficient work and planning systems, but efficiency saving plans are less advanced.
The ORR will report publicly on progress in March 2019.