Office of Rail and Road Update - November 2020


Welcome to our November newsletter.

Image removed.Welcome to ORR’s November newsletter

October saw us publish figures which showed that passenger numbers for the first quarter of the year had fallen dramatically, unsurprisingly. For me this links to the bigger picture, and the question of how ORR regulates in changing times

I’ve been leading the organisation for two years now, and throughout my watchwords have been proportionate and dynamic. That’s more important now than ever with the impact of Covid. And while we will never compromise on the safety of those who use and work on the railway, our approach as regulator is to work with industry to ensure the safest railway at the best cost. 

Being adaptable, where there’s good evidence we need to be, is important to us. One of the changes we made during the 2018 periodic review was to introduce a new incentive to encourage Network Rail to increase capacity. This involved making part of the fixed charge paid by franchised operators vary according to the number of timetabled services they operate. This was done in the expectation that train operators would want to add new services. However, the world has since changed, and it just doesn’t make sense to bring this charge into effect as we had planned – not least because of the difficulty of forecasting traffic in these uncertain times. Having asked the rail industry for its views, we have recently confirmed that this incentive will not now be switched on in control period 6. 

As always, I’m grateful to all who engage with us on matters like this, helping to ensure our approach reflects the public interest.

John Larkinson, 
Chief Executive

Understanding Network Rail’s supply chain better

Network Rail spends over £7bn per year with its supply chain. Contractors play a vital role in ensuring the delivery of major projects, and keeping the network running. As part of our role regulating Network Rail’s efficiency and delivery, and in light of recent major events such as the collapse of Carillion, it is vital that we maintain a good understanding of the robustness of that supply chain, and seek to anticipate significant risks. 

We have therefore recently launched a project to gather intelligence on the current capacity of Network Rail’s suppliers, how issues such as Brexit and COVID-19 might have an impact, and how Network Rail is managing these issues. This will equip ORR with the knowledge to ensure the UK railway supply chain remains strong, competitive and able to deliver on maintaining and enhancing the rail network. We will be talking to stakeholders on this. If you would like to discuss further, please contact Christopher Todd.

Ensuring passengers have the information they need

An important part of our role is to ensure that all passengers have the information and support they need to complete their journeys. This month we have written to all train operating companies to remind them to ensure that their passenger information is up to date for the upcoming timetable change.


Image removed.Million hour challenge – Karen Barnes, one of ORR’s Rail Inspectors explores what being a listening volunteer for the Samaritans is like, undertaken as part of the Million hour challenge.

Image removed.World Statistics Day – the importance of statistics you can trust – Lyndsey Melbourne, ORR Head of Information and Analysis, expounds on the data ORR produces and its uses.

Statistical releasesImage removed.

This month we have published stats on: