The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is to impose financial sanctions for under-performing routes and operators as well as reduce or remove bonuses handed out to Network Rail bosses.
The new policy allows the ORR to target areas where underperformance would have the most serious impact on passengers, freight customers and funders. The regulator said it would do this by “prioritising progress over process to reach early and pragmatic resolution of problems”.
The new measures will take effect from 1 April at the start of the new five year control period (CP6), and are based on a three-stage approach.
The first stage it said would consist of routine monitoring and assessment of Network Rail’s performance.
By drawing on a range of new data sources, the ORR said it would compare performance across local routes, and would highlight good practice that could then be shared across the whole network.
It will also the strength of Network Rail’s stakeholder engagement and collaborative working.
The second stage will involve investigating and promptly resolving rail users’ concerns.
In the third stage, the ORR will act if Network Rail fails to resolve issues.
The new policy introduces an option to impose financial sanctions on routes or on the system operator, possibly limiting Network Rail managers’ bonuses.
The ORR said the new policy avoided the need for money to be diverted away from the railway.
ORR director of railway planning and performance Graham Richards said there had been significant changes to Network Rail’s business in recent years. He said the ORR is changing the way the operator was being held to account in response.
“Our new approach puts passengers and other railway users firmly at the centre of concerns while placing strong emphasis on Network Rail working together with its customers to solve problems early.
“Passengers, business and the entire rail industry need Network Rail to deliver a high-quality service: resolving issues early is important.
“ORR’s regulation will target the areas that have most serious impact on all rail users, and do so early. Of course, our strongest sanctions remain available to address serious and long term failures.”
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