The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has launched an urgent investigation into the engineering over-runs at Rugby and at Liverpool Street, following a complaint by Virgin Trains, operator on the West Coast Mainline.
"ORR fined Network Rail for its project planning and management failings after it failed to complete the Portsmouth resignalling project last Christmas," said Chris Bolt, ORR Chairman. "It is extremely disappointing to have a repeat of that experience, on key parts of the network."
Network Rail is likely to be facing heavy fines, after it had to pay out £2.4m last year due to the overrun of signalling work in the Portsmouth area at Christmas 2006.
"Because of the seriousness of the situation we felt it necessary to refer the matter to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR)," said Chris Gibb, Managing Director for Virgin Trains. "We simply cannot have NR bullying train operators in this way just because their engineering planning processes are in a mess."
The works on the West Coast Mainline, which include a £415m remodelling of Rugby station and its approaches, was originally due to finish in time for New Year's Eve but was later rescheduled to finish for the morning of the 1st January. However, work continues today.
A Network Rail spokesperson confirmed that the line would remained closed today but could not say when services would be running again. A further update is expected later this afternoon.
Investigations are underway into why the project overran but Network Rail have said that the main issue seemed to be a shortage of specialist engineering and contractor staff necessary to rebuild the overhead electrification.
Works on the East London Line and the removal of a old Victorian bridge near Liverpool Street were scheduled to be completed for today, but Liverpool Street station remained closed this morning. A full service is likely to resume tomorrow, with some long distance services due to be reopened this afternoon.
"Both these over runs are completely unacceptable and an urgent investigation into what has gone wrong has been launched," said Robin Gisby Network Rail Director of Operations and Customer Services. "Network Rail is deeply sorry for the further disruption this news will cause to passengers. We have brought in additional manpower and are working flat out to restore services as soon as possible."