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ORR praises Network Rail, despite Grayrigg

In its fourth annual review of the rail network, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has praised the progress of Network Rail, in particular its safety record, despite the Grayrigg disaster, which killed 84-year-old Margaret Masson.

According to the report, Network Rail improved its management of the network. Three years into the current control period it is on course to achieve the targets set in the access charges review of 2003 (ACR2003).

ORR Chief Executive Bill Emery said, "We welcome Network Rail's continuing progress. The company is now past the midway point in the current five-year control period, and it is achieving nearly all the targets expected of it when we set these in 2003.

"Safety performance has continued to improve. We note the accident frequency rate for Network Rail's workforce and contractors continues to fall, with clear improvements in maintenance and renewals.

"Delays caused by failed infrastructure have been reduced, and asset condition has generally improved during the year; with a significant reduction in the number of broken rails and temporary speed restrictions overall.

"There are challenges for the company over the number of track faults, the continuing high level of points failures, and issues relating to electrification and power supply equipment.

"We note Network Rail's net debt and expenditure were both marginally higher than the previous year. And while cumulative expenditure over the first three years of the control period is below that assumed, there has been significantly higher spend on track.

"We want Network Rail to build on this progress and to seek and sustain further improvements in the remaining two years of the control period. We encourage all in the company to redouble their efforts and so help create a higher performing railway for passengers and users of railway services."

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