Network Rail working with train operators to improve its grip on performance

6 December 2012

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has today published its quarterly report showing that Network Rail, working with train operators, is getting a better grip on performance.

Earlier this year ORR raised concerns about Network Rail's plans to deliver improved punctuality on long distance services and performance on London and South East services. Punctuality matters to passengers, and the company has been funded to deliver performance targets. ORR's latest analysis of Network Rail's performance between 22 July – 13 October 2012 shows that the company has collaborated well with train operators in developing and implementing better plans for improving punctuality. These plans are supported by a new £79m performance recovery fund.

  • Long distance – Network Rail has taken action to address concerns about performance in 2011-12. For example, Virgin Trains has seconded a senior manager to identify and help develop new initiatives on the West Coast Main Line aimed at achieving sustainable improvements to punctuality, including actions to enhance the reliability of key equipment and new targeted track inspections. Punctuality levels in the sector have improved when compared to the same period last year, rising 2.2 percentage points to 89.2%.
  • London and the South East - Network Rail has developed new performance recovery plans, informed and supported by train operators on the route, which set out how the company will push to deliver punctuality improvements to hit its 2013-14 punctuality target of 93%. Punctuality levels also increased over the last year, by 1.0 percentage point to 91.8%.

However, Network Rail remains significantly adrift of its 92% long distance punctuality target it has been funded to deliver by 2013-14. Under the order made by ORR earlier this year, if the company fails to deliver the 2013-14 target it faces a substantial financial penalty. The size of any financial penalty will reflect the extent of Network Rail's failure to meet the commitment, increasing by £1.5 million per 0.1 percentage point it drops below the 92% punctuality target.

Richard Price, ORR Chief Executive, said:

Rail passengers expect to see their trains running on time, and we expect Network Rail, working with train operators, to play its full part in making that happen.
Punctuality is still short of where it needs to be on some key routes. But we are seeing signs of improvement as Network Rail has, in recent months, demonstrated a real drive to develop fresh solutions to long-standing problems which undermined punctuality. It has forged closer links with train operators, developing stronger plans to maintain improvements. We are particularly impressed with recovery in Scotland which has seen sustained performance close to best ever levels. This is exactly the response to our performance challenge that we wanted to see.
In recent weeks, challenging weather conditions across Britain have led to travel disruption. We are watching closely to see how the rail industry manages this to minimise inconvenience to its customers. We expect Network Rail to deliver improved performance and meet its targets by 2014, and will, on behalf of passengers, maintain pressure on the company to do so.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office of Rail Regulation is the independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain's railways.
  2. Read the Network Rail Monitor, which also highlights ORR's assessment of the railway's excellent performance throughout the Olympic and Paralympic period, and concerns about the sustainability of Network Rail's management of parts of the railway infrastructure, such as bridges, tunnels and major structures.
  3. Read the latest correspondence on performance, including Network Rail's letter on performance commitments, a performance report from Chris Gibb, Virgin Trains, an independent reporter's assessment of London and South East plans, and ORR's responses.
  4. Punctuality targets are measured on a public performance measure basis (PPM). PPM is a measure of the percentage of trains arriving at their final destination within ten minutes of the advertised time for long distance trains, and within five minutes for London and South East trains.
  5. Network Rail committed to, and was funded to achieve 92% PPM for the long distance sector in 2013-14 as part of ORR's last periodic review. 92% punctuality equates to 43,661 long distance trains running ten or more minutes late, or being cancelled, per year (approximately 840 trains per week /120 trains per day).
  6. Provision is made for the penalty to be reduced if Network Rail can demonstrate it has done everything reasonably practicable to meet its target. Any financial penalty, dictated by the extent of Network Rail's failure to meet its long distance commitment, will be payable in or after April 2014.
  7. There were 13.7 million journeys on long distance services that were either late or cancelled in 2011-12. This figure has been calculated from passenger journeys data and based on the number of tickets bought.