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Network Rail fined £2M after errors lead to delays

Network Rail has been fined £2M after breaching its licence by failing to meet punctuality targets.

Regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said the infrastructure operating body had made a number of timetabling errors that led to delays and cancellations.

The fine is the latest in a catalogue of problems for Network Rail, whose top bosses have already been told they won’t receive bonuses for last financial year. Recent months have seen enhancement milestones missed, large projects overrun and major works suspended.

ORR’s latest analysis showed that for Southern and Govia Thameslink services:

  • A number of timetable modelling assumptions made were incorrect as they were based on flawed data 
  • Network Rail was overly optimistic in estimating and assessing the impact of the new timetable on performance
  • The company failed to engage adequately with the train operators to understand what impact the new timetables would have on their passengers and services

In Scotland, there were numerous errors in the December 2014 timetable caused by a number of factors including a lack of both quality assurance and detailed planning.

ORR chief executive Richard Price said: “These serious issues have caused severe disruption and frustration for passengers, most notably affecting services at and around London Bridge.

“The penalty sends a clear message to the Network Rail Board. Network Rail must urgently rectify these errors and deliver the reliability of services that passengers have paid for.”

Network Rail managing director of network operations Phil Hufton said: “At the start of this year we had a number of problems that caused passengers disruption and frustration and we apologise for this.  Since then we have proactively invested more than £11M to improve performance for Southern and Thameslink passengers.

“This investment, which has seen the introduction of a revised timetable, improved equipment, the deployment of rapid-response maintenance teams at London Bridge as well as new information screens and better passenger information, is paying dividends and passenger service reliability has now improved by almost 12% since January.”

He added: “As we are now a public sector organisation, the fine must come from within our existing budget and will mean a reallocation of existing resources to pay it.”

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