Im­proved jour­ney times tops Scot­tish pri­or­i­ties

Rail (UK) - - News -

In Scot­land, Net­work Rail will have to de­liver 36 spec­i­fied ob­jec­tives con­tained in ORR’s fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­tion of costs and charges for Con­trol Pe­riod 6 (CP6, 2019-24).

Top of ORR’s list is a plan to de­liver im­proved jour­ney times (a fac­tor that sat 11th in a list of 31 pas­sen­ger pri­or­i­ties pub­lished by Trans­port Fo­cus last year) to de­liver a mile per minute tar­get of 1.587 by De­cem­ber 2019 and 1.576 by De­cem­ber 2024.

Punc­tu­al­ity tar­gets in­clude 92.5% for ScotRail ser­vices in every year of CP6 (de­spite NR pre­dict­ing that it can­not achieve this un­til the third year), and 80% right-time ar­rivals for Cale­do­nian Sleeper. Freight per­for­mance must be no lower than 94.5% by the end of CP6. ORR warns that it is highly likely to take reg­u­la­tory ac­tion if freight falls below 92.5%.

NR must work with freight op­er­a­tors to de­liver a 7.5% in­crease in rail freight, of which at least 7% must be new to rail, by the end of CP6. It must also in­crease the aver­age speed of freight trains by at least 10%.

NR’s ob­jec­tives in­clude mak­ing timeta­bles fit around lo­cal bus and ferry op­er­a­tors in ru­ral Scot­land. Veg­e­ta­tion must be con­trolled to al­low views from trains and to prevent dam­age to trains.

These ob­jec­tives fol­low Trans­port Scot­land’s pub­li­ca­tion of a very de­tailed High Level Out­put Spec­i­fi­ca­tion which laid out what it and Scot­tish min­is­ters wanted from the rail net­work. This has led to Trans­port Scot­land be­ing in­volved in de­ci­sions about NR’s re­newals plans to a greater ex­tent than is nor­mal.

This is be­cause the re­newals lead to a choice about what they will pro­vide for three projects: Perth res­ig­nalling; Carstairs track re­newals; and Ed­in­burgh IECC res­ig­nalling.

ORR notes that there is no agree­ment be­tween TS and NR on Ed­in­burgh, and that Perth is likely to be treated as an en­hance­ment project. For Carstairs, ORR says it ex­pects to see an ef­fi­cient cost re­view as part of the plan­ning (a tech­nique usu­ally used on en­hance­ments), to en­sure that its costs are jus­ti­fied. It notes that emer­gency and tem­po­rary speed re­stric­tions are be­ing im­posed in the area as track de­te­ri­o­rates.

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