Content archived on 28 November 2021
The report highlights that train service performance is generally below expectations. The regulator's evidence also suggests that the quality of data that Network Rail relies upon to plan and manage works on Britain's railways is currently in places unreliable, and that this may be hindering its efforts to meet its funded targets.
The Network Rail Monitor covers its performance in the first seven months of the new funding period that began in April 2014 in areas such as punctuality, asset management, enhancement projects delivery, and finance and efficiency. The report shows:
- Network Rail has made good progress in reducing safety risk at level crossings, mainly through a programme of closures but also through more effective risk assessment and the implementation of new technology and better systems.
- National train punctuality is currently 89.1%, 0.7 percentage points short of the level expected at this point. Network Rail is making progress against its own two-year performance recovery plan but this is not having the desired effect on punctuality. ORR has asked for the plan to be adjusted appropriately in light of this underperformance.
- The company has reported delivering less work than it planned to do, in both maintaining and renewing the network. There is a lack of reliable data on bridges, structures and earthworks as well as volumes of work being delivered. This is having an adverse impact on Network Rail's ability to work effectively.
- Network Rail has not made the expected progress in the early stages of certain enhancement projects – such as the strategic freight network at Ipswich Yard; and phase 2 of Barry to Cardiff Queen Street corridor – raising questions regarding its ability to deliver the ambitious enhancements programme. ORR has asked Network Rail to produce an improvement plan to demonstrate how it will make up for the delays.
- Network Rail has spent £40m more (year to date) than its own budget assumptions and forecasts an overspend of £112m for 2014-15. This is largely due to spend on two significant new initiatives, the Tidy Railway and Business Critical Rules Programme, which were not included in its 2014-15 budget.
ORR chief executive Richard Price said:
At ORR we have changed our approach to regulating train punctuality and the performance of the network – focusing on the indicators that will tell us more about Network Rail's likely performance trajectory. This enables us to predict whether Network Rail's work in the coming months will put matters right for passengers. This is vital as too many people are facing too many delays. It is the biggest source of dissatisfaction with the railways, and the industry needs to tackle the problem.
ORR is also concerned about the reliability of some of the information Network Rail depends upon to take decisions about how to achieve and sustain the high levels of punctuality and financial performance. Network Rail has made progress in some of these areas, but not in all of them. Without up-to-date knowledge, Network Rail will not have sufficient understanding of how and why its assets fail and its maintenance approach will remain reactive – leading to inefficiencies and hindering its efforts to improve punctuality. The new management at the company has made it clear that it shares our concerns and has committed to address these issues."
Notes to editors
- ORR is the independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain's railways. Follow ORR on Twitter @railregulation.
- Infographic explaining what Network Rail needs to deliver by 2019: https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/15247/orr-cp5-output-framework.pdf
- The Network Rail Monitor for England and Wales can be downloaded here: https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/15230/network-rail-monitor-2014-15-q1.pdf
- For the Scotland Network Rail monitor visit: https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/15231/network-rail-monitor-scotland-2014-15-q1.pdf
- Network Rail entered 2014-15 at much lower levels of performance than anticipated in ORR's CP5 Final Determination: http://goo.gl/8sGthP. Network Rail has produced a CP5 Performance Plan which details the activities it will deliver to ensure that performance returns to the regulated target levels by 31 March 2016. ORR is monitoring the company's delivery of this plan and assessing whether it is doing everything reasonably practicable in the circumstances to recover performance.
- ORR expects Network Rail to underperform the regulatory financial performance measure by around £300m in 2014-15. This takes into account the variances between: actual performance and its own budget (£112m adverse for the full year), the financial assumptions in our PR13 determination for CP5 and Network Rail's own budget (£100m adverse for the full year) and also Network Rail's estimate of the financial effect of the forecast under-delivery of the regulatory outputs for train performance (£93m for the full year).