Press releases

ORR publishes Network Rail performance review for 2014-15

11 June 2015

Content archived on 27 September 2023

Archive date
02 July 2021

The rail industry has seen substantial growth and sustained levels of investment in recent years with increasing passenger numbers and a flourishing rail freight sector. ORR data shows there has been a 59.1% rise in passenger journeys and 9.1% rise in freight usage since 2005. Last year, Network Rail embarked on a multi-billion pound plan to improve the reliability and efficiency of Britain's railways as well as delivering a huge programme of work to make people's travelling experiences better. Network Rail has targets in place for 2014-19 (CP5) to make sure it delivers value for money, punctuality and reliability, reduces disruption for today's passengers while improving the railway for the future, and safeguards the sustainability of the rail infrastructure.

ORR's report shows that Network Rail has not met a number of its enhancements programme delivery targets with some projects facing delays. Network Rail also delivered far less work than it planned for the upkeep of the rail network, and while train service performance is good in some sectors, punctuality and reliability is below expectations on some routes (notably Southern, Thameslink and Scotland). ORR has launched investigations into Network Rail's performance as well as its capability to deliver the massive enhancements programme. The investigations will be looking to identify key issues the company needs to address to help it achieve the targets it agreed to for CP5 by 2019.

ORR chief executive Richard Price said:

Britain's railways have seen sustained investment and a record rise in passenger numbers as well as freight activity in recent years. This is a real success for the industry which has improved reliability of the network and services over the past decade.
Network Rail has made a slow start in delivering on its enhancements and performance targets for CP5 and we have asked it to demonstrate how it plans to get back on schedule to deliver on its commitments to 2019. The company is also falling short of its own targets on completing renewals works for the upkeep of the rail network. While there is good performance on the East Coast Mainline and the freight sector, overall reliability on some routes such as the Southern, Thameslink and Scotland routes are below requirements.
ORR is investigating Network Rail's performance improvement plans and delivery of enhancements. This work will help identify the issues the company needs to address to improve train performance, increase capacity and deliver on its commitments to passengers.

The Network Rail Monitor covers the company's performance in the first year of CP5 (which began in April 2014) in areas such as punctuality, asset management, enhancement projects delivery, finance and efficiency. The report shows that:

  • Network Rail is responsible for delivering more than £12bn of enhancements to the rail network such as new stations, electrification and bridges by 2019. The company's performance on delivery of its enhancement portfolio in the first year of CP5 has faced challenges. At the end 2014-15, it had missed 30 out of its 84 planned milestones with some projects facing delays or cost escalations. ORR is also investigating whether the company has the right measures in place to plan and deliver the projects it committed to.
  • Network Rail has delivered less renewal work than it planned. For example, track renewal is 7% behind plan; signalling renewals are 63% behind schedule; and overhead line renewals are 77% behind target. Timely completion of these works is vital for improving punctuality as well as the long-term sustainability and safety of the rail network.
  • Performance on the East Coast Mainline and freight sector has been good, however, overall punctuality of train service performance remains at 89.6% – 2.9 percentage points lower than the 92.5% target (to be achieved by 2019). ORR has launched an investigation to determine whether the company has done all it can to improve performance and punctuality on the network.
  • Network Rail has implemented new plans and ORR's recommendations for engineering works to minimise impact on passengers following an ORR investigation into the Christmas engineering works that overran, causing widespread delays.

ORR will be publishing a detailed annual health and safety assessment in summer 2015 and a finance and efficiency assessment in autumn 2015.

Notes to editors

  1. To download the full document click here:
  2. To see the Scotland Monitor visit:
  3. ORR challenged Network Rail to improve its asset data quality, and set a specific quality target to be achieved by April 2017. To that end, Network Rail has adopted a comprehensive programme to improve data quality and ORR is monitoring progress. The quality of asset data that Network Rail relies on has improved, but it is still unreliable in places particularly on earthworks, embankments and drainage assets.
  4. The Office of Rail and Road is the independent economic and safety rail regulator and the independent strategic roads monitor for England.
  5. Follow the Office of Rail and Road on Twitter @railregulation for latest news data and announcements on the rail industry and @highwaysmonitor to keep updated on ORR's strategic road monitoring work.Freight moved in 2014-15 was 22.2 billion net tonne kilometres – up 1.9 billion net tonne kilometres since 2004-05. Number of passenger journeys in 2014-15 was 1.65 billion – up 614.2 million since 2004-05.