ORR approves passenger-focused plans for improving Scotland’s railway

31 October 2018

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has today set out its final determination on Network Rail's £4bn plans to make Scotland's railway more reliable and more focused on passengers' needs. The plans will run for five years from 1 April 2019, known as Control Period 6 (CP6).

The regulator has set out what Network Rail will be expected to deliver in Scotland, reflecting the requirements which the Scottish Government set in its High Level Output Specification (HLOS). This includes specific measures for Network Rail to deliver journey time improvements for both passenger and freight operators and achieve a punctuality target of 92.5%. ORR’s final determination also requires Network Rail to take steps to make rail freight more attractive to business across Scotland and to facilitate 7.5% growth by the end of CP6.

The ORR is setting up a stronger framework to hold the Scotland route to account by:

  • ensuring all HLOS requirements are incorporated into a new Scotland route tracker,
  • making changes to Network Rail’s licence to make each part of the business more clearly accountable for what it does,
  • changing how it monitors whether efficiency improvements are likely to be delivered,
  • making public comparisons between how the Scotland route is delivering compared against other routes throughout CP6.

The ORR supports plans for increased investment in research & development (R&D) with a GB-wide fund  of £245m (of which £26m will be funded from the Scotland route settlement) to be spent on projects that are intended to deliver a range of benefits, including those that would improve the reliability of the network. Network Rail has committed to being more transparent about where its R&D spend benefits the Scottish economy.

Another important step forward is a significant increase in funding and resources for Network Rail’s timetabling and planning functions of the System Operator. Network Rail has committed to improving the capability of people and processes, to make better use of the national network, deliver better timetabling of trains and support the Scottish Ministers’ decisions on how best to expand the capability of the network.

Throughout this review, ORR has consulted widely and received valuable contributions and responses from stakeholders, including consumer groups, industry, and Network Rail. After consultation, ORR has confirmed plans to simplify industry charges and incentives, including scrapping outdated mechanisms and capping charges for freight and charter operators.

John Larkinson, Chief Executive, ORR said:

"Today’s decisions mean that Network Rail, the Scotland route and the system operator can now implement their plans to deliver a service which passengers and freight customers rightly demand and deserve.

"These plans are focussed on improving performance for passengers and freight operators by getting the basics right – ensuring that the railway is properly maintained and renewed, and on improving the daily operation of the railway.

"With only five months until the start of CP6, it is important that the Scotland route is ready to deliver from day one of the new control period on the priorities set for Scotland."

Notes to editors

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  1. The Scotland route has been devolved for a number of years. Network Rail’s changes to introduce more devolution across its whole business structure has meant that there is a much clearer route business plan in Scotland covering the next five years.
  2. Links to documents:
    1. Executive summary – Scotland
    2. Executive summary – England & Wales
    3. PR18 final determination: overview of approach and decisions
    4. Final determination web page
  3. All financial numbers are in 2017-18 prices and exclude enhancements, risk funding and schedule 4&8.
CP6 total, £m (2017-18 prices) GB England & Wales Scotland
Operations 3,426 3,186 239
Support 2,609 2,314 295
Maintenance 7,692 6,977 715
Renewals 16,642 14,581 2,061
Other 4,328 3,966 362
Total 34,696 31,025 3,672

Other is traction electricity, industry costs and rates + schedule 4 costs.