However, ORR notes the need for continued attention to improvements to train service performance in the North West.
In the first half of 2020-21, Network Rail and the industry delivered high levels of train performance that reversed a long-term downward trend over the last few years. The percentage of trains arriving on-time at stations was 75% in November 2020, compared to 65% before the pandemic.
ORR notes reduced service levels and passenger numbers have been a factor in improved punctuality, but it is evident that Network Rail has focused on strengthening its performance management capability, including taking steps to learn from the pandemic and deliver improvement plans.
Before Covid-19, passenger train performance was particularly poor in North West & Central region and an ORR investigation required a number of improvements. Given the pandemic, the regulator finds Network Rail has made reasonable progress against the majority of these improvements but that more still needs to be done.
Asset management still needs to improve and progress is required in working with train operators to facilitate the introduction of new trains. ORR will keep these areas under review.
John Larkinson, Chief Executive, ORR said:
Notes to editors
- The Office of Rail and Road holds Network Rail to account for its management of the rail network in Great Britain, monitoring how it operates the network to keep trains running on time, and how it keeps the network safe and in good condition.
- Network Rail has managed increases in services effectively, with step-ups in May, July and September - service levels are now at approximately 90% of pre-pandemic levels.
- ORR judges train performance has been good and Network Rail has continued to deliver vital maintenance and renewal works largely to plan.