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Regulator finds Network Rail in breach of licence

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has found Network Rail in breach of its licence with regard to a decline in performance in the freight sector and long distance passenger services.

The ORR said that Network Rail had missed its rail freight targets — delays are currently 32% worse than the end of year target — but that it was not doing “all it can” to reach this target. It also said that the rail infrastructure owner and operator was likely to contravene its licence for passenger services because long distance punctuality was currently at 87.1%, against a target of 90.9%.

On these passenger targets, the ORR said: “Network Rail has admitted it is not able to deliver the target this year, and is also likely to miss next year’s. The ORR needs to be satisfied that Network Rail is doing everything reasonably practicable to achieve its targets, but has been hindered by the lack of robust quantification of initiatives and projections in the plans the company has produced.”

The ORR has proposed two enforcement orders that will require Network Rail to produce new plans by the end of February 2012 showing it is doing “everything reasonably practicable” to deliver the performance commitments for long distance services in 2012/2013 and establish a “recovery board” for freight perfomance. The regulator added that it had not found Network Rail in breach of its licence with regard to performance in Scotland and has robust plans in place to achieve improvements.

Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said that the firm does not “take any licence breach lightly” and is “fully focused on driving up performance across Britain’s railway”. Over the last few years the industry has raised performance levels to amongst the best in Europe with over 91% of trains arriving on time,” he added. “Volumes are high and growing and where the industry has focused its efforts there have been improvements.

“Yet, we acknowledge that in parts of the country passenger and freight performance does not meet the standards that our customers now rightly demand. Working with our industry partners, we are committed to understanding the issues behind these problems and resolving them.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Barry Walton

    Others have complained and it would be refreshing if NCE would add some relevant meat to these detail-lite if dramatically worded reports so that we can contemplate, at least, whether all of the proposed investment is worth spending. According to the Rail regulator's figures - Key Results: 1) In 2011-12 Q2, 78.6% of freight trains were on time, a rise of 0.9 percentage points on 2010-11 Q2. This is the highest percentage achieved since the series began in 2005-06 Q1. Apparently a freigth train arriving on time does so within 10 minutes of its scheduled time. Would we be saved billions of £ if a 'relaxed' target were set? Precisely how that target was arrived at within the whole context of delivering thing might be worth knowing (90.9% - .9 come on!). Perhaps more importantly within the context of who is responsible for punctuality would be to know how failure could, with any certainty, be laid at Network Rail's and, even then, within their total control.

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