Reg­u­la­tor takes ac­tion against Net­work Rail over poor per­for­mance

Western Morning News - - Uk And World News - BY NEIL LANCEFIELD

A reg­u­la­tor is tak­ing for­mal ac­tion against Net­work Rail in re­la­tion to its poor per­for­mance.

The Of­fice of Rail and Road (ORR) has or­dered the Govern­ment-owned company to im­prove its man­age­ment of Bri­tain’s rail in­fra­struc­ture.

Punc­tu­al­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity are at the low­est lev­els since 2014, the ORR said, with ex­treme weather and prob­lems im­ple­ment­ing the May 2018 timetable among the causes.

Net­work Rail chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Haines ad­mit­ted train per­for­mance “has not been what our pas­sen­gers de­serve”.

He added: “We have let them down and we take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the part we have played in poor train ser­vice re­li­a­bil­ity.”

Re­cent re­views high­lighted weak­nesses with Net­work Rail’s plan­ning and its ca­pa­bil­ity to re­cover ser­vices fol­low­ing in­ci­dents.

ORR chief ex­ec­u­tive John Larkin­son said: “Pas­sen­gers and freight cus­tomers rely on Net­work Rail for punc­tual and re­li­able train ser­vices and the ev­i­dence we have col­lected sug­gests to us that Net­work Rail is fail­ing to take all rea­son­able steps to ef­fec­tively man­age per­for­mance and re­cover from in­ci­dents on its net­work.

“This is a ca­pa­bil­ity is­sue which must be ad­dressed ur­gently.”

The ORR has is­sued a Pro­vi­sional Or­der which re­quires Net­work Rail and its route manag­ing di­rec­tors to take a num­ber of steps, in­clud­ing:

More en­gage­ment with train op­er­a­tors to de­velop ways of im­prov­ing per­for­mance.

De­liver a re­port to the ORR by Fe­bru­ary 15 which iden­ti­fies un­der­ly­ing is­sues and plans to re­solve them.

Pro­vide the ORR with reg­u­lar progress up­dates.

The ORR also found Net­work Rail is in a bet­ter po­si­tion to “de­liver ef­fi­ciently” in the next five-year fund­ing pe­riod – known as CP6 – which starts in April 2019, com­pared with this point five years ago.

The company has made progress in some ar­eas but its plans to make ef­fi­ciency sav­ings are “less ad­vanced than they need to be and there is more to do” before CP6 begins, ac­cord­ing to the reg­u­la­tor.

Mr Haines said: “Net­work Rail is fully com­mit­ted to lead­ing the in­dus­try back to higher lev­els of per­for­mance, both through our own mea­sures and ac­tions and by work­ing closely with our in­dus­try part­ners.”

One of the roles of the ORR is to hold Net­work Rail to ac­count un­der the terms of its li­cence.

A spokesman for the reg­u­la­tor said if Net­work Rail fails to act on its de­mands then a fine can be im­posed and the company could be li­able to le­gal ac­tion “from an ag­grieved party”.

A rail union has of­fered to sus­pend a long-run­ning pro­gramme of strikes which has crip­pled ser­vices across the North of Eng­land if “cru­cial guar­an­tees” on a sec­ond per­son on trains are given.

Mem­bers of the Rail, Mar­itime and Trans­port union (RMT) on Ar­riva Rail North (North­ern) have staged a se­ries of walk­outs in a dis­pute over guards on trains, with more stop­pages due on ev­ery Sat­ur­day for the rest of the year.

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