Office of Rail and Road December 2021 newsletter

30 November 2021
Feras Alshaker
Feras Alshaker
Director, Planning and Performance
Cover Image
Train on track

Welcome to the December edition of the stakeholder newsletter. 

I was pleased to be given the opportunity to take over responsibility for ORR’s Planning and Performance work following Graham Richards’ secondment to the Great British Railways Transition Team.  

One of the first pieces of work I’ve overseen has been the recently published mid-year report on Network Rail’s performance - a key part of the work we do in holding Network Rail to account for its performance and efficiency.  

Our report found that while Network Rail has taken steps to learn from the high levels of performance seen during the pandemic, action is still needed to prevent train service performance declining to pre-pandemic levels as more passengers return to the railway. We have outlined several actions we want Network Rail to take over the next six months to halt this decline.  

Separately, we have closed our 18-month investigation into Network Rail’s impact on poor performance in the North West and Central region. Our investigation focused on whether Network Rail had identified key factors impacting train performance in the region and had set time-bound plans to address them.  

In our final assessment, we confirmed that, despite some disappointment at the pace of progress on delivering certain recommendations, we are now content that Network Rail has shown a genuine commitment to improve performance and has addressed all 25 of our recommendations. 

Top Stories

Rail Industry Finance Report Published

ORR has today published its Rail Industry Finance (UK) report showing the income, expenditure, and government funding of the UK rail industry for the financial year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. The rail industry in 2020-21 was substantially affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Passenger journeys fell to historically low levels and the government used emergency measures to keep train services running, which led to a large increase in train operator subsidy. 


Station usage stats 

Last week, ORR published our annual estimates of station usage statistics 2020-21. These popular stats include the annual total of passenger entries and exits at each of the 2,569 mainline stations in Great Britain. London’s Stratford station recorded the most passenger entries and exits during a year that saw Britain’s passenger usage drop 78% compared with the previous year. The pandemic has meant this was the lowest level of journeys seen since at least before 1872.  

Boosting competition, innovation and value for money in railway signalling 

ORR has published recommendations aimed at opening up the railway signalling market in a package of measures that would allow Network Rail to boost competition between suppliers on cost, quality and innovation, and drive greater efficiency and performance across the network. 

Amey Rail fined £600,000 for health and safety failings 

A rail infrastructure and engineering company carrying out track modifications during reconstruction of Market Harborough station has been fined £600,000 for health and safety breaches. ORR brought the prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for failure to ensure operations involving lifting equipment were properly planned, supervised, and carried out in a safe manner.