ORR identifies issues causing Network Rail's poor performance for South Western Railway passengers

5 July 2018

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has today published its conclusions on Network Rail's contribution to the poor performance suffered by passengers on South Western Railway (SWR). ORR calls on Network Rail to improve its planning, procedures and technology

SWR trains arriving on time dropped from 90.5% in 2015-16 to 84.3% in 2017-18. Sixty-eight percent of this delay was caused by Network Rail in 2017-18 (68%) - which is why ORR chose to review Network Rail’s delivery to SWR.

ORR found that despite the number of network-related incidents remaining stable, it is also taking longer to restore normal service and recover the service after a problem occurs. Of the issues within Network Rail’s control, ORR found:

  • Contingency plans had not been updated since 2011. These provide options for what action to take in cases of disruption.
  • Processes for how to respond to incidents, such as who should be the lead, the steps they need to take etc., were not always followed. For example, after a fatal incident the relevant signalling centre was not involved in the conference call which agreed an action plan.
  • 'Lessons learned' reviews did not always happen and, where they did, there was limited evidence that the lessons were put into practice.

Network Rail has accepted these findings and we will be monitoring their progress in developing and implementing improvement plans.

Graham Richards, ORR’s Railway Planning and Performance, said:

"Passengers using South Western Railway have faced unacceptable disruption in recent months. When things go wrong, it is essential that Network Rail works efficiently to get back to normal service as quickly as possible.

"Our investigation found that Network Rail has not updated its processes to keep pace with the changes on the route. We will be looking closely to ensure it addresses our findings.

"We acknowledge that the performance issues on SWR are not down to Network Rail alone, and we have therefore shared our findings with Michael Holden to inform his review."

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