Improved journey times tops Scottish priorities
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.