Network Rail was praised by the Office of Rail Regulation on Friday for reducing train delays on the national network, but warned it must do more at regional and local levels.
The rail regulator's third annual report on the rail operator, covering the period from April 2005 to March 2006, stated that good progress continued to be made, but with some areas requiring continued management attention.ORR chief executive Bill Emery said: 'Our assessment concludes that Network Rail has continued to make good progress with managing the network. 'Two years into the current control period, it is well on the way to achieving the targets laid down in the access charges review in 2003 (ACR2003).'There are, however, areas that require continued management attention. In particular, the company has achieved significant further reductions in train delays caused by infrastructure problems, at the same time as supporting more traffic on the network.,/p>'However, we note that this improvement has not been uniform across the country, and we will be expecting Network Rail to address regional and local problems during the current year.'Safety performance improved across many aspects of Network Rail's business, although the company did not achieve all of its targets.Network Rail's net debt and expenditure at 31 March 2006 were both significantly lower than expected, mainly due to additional unit cost efficiencies beyond those assumed in ACR2003, and reductions in scope that Network Rail says does not compromise the network.There has been a steady improvement in network condition, although there are local variations.The ORR noted that the early gains from taking direct responsibility for maintenance have now been consolidated, and that achieving further improvements in the reliability of the infrastructure will provide a challenge for Network Rail.