ORR’s annual assessment of Network Rail in Scotland: Good on safety but network performance needs to improve

5 July 2016

Network Rail had a good year on safety in 2015-16. There has been good progress improving infrastructure reliability, but this has not yet translated into better performance for passengers, and there are cost and delivery issues on some enhancement projects which need to be addressed‎.

This is the headline from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) who published its annual report on Network Rail’s performance in Scotland today.

ORR's report highlights:

  • Safety: There has been good leadership of safety at Network Rail. There have been no worker fatalities or industry-caused passenger deaths on Network Rail’s infrastructure or stations. Network Rail recognises that there is no room for complacency. ORR inspections have found underlying issues such as safety rules and procedures not being followed consistently.
  • Network performance: Network Rail has made progress delivering its plan to improve performance, with most major assets such as track and signalling becoming more reliable. However, these improvements have not yet translated into better performance for passengers. Some reasons are outside Network Rail’s control, such as the closure of the Forth Bridge, extreme weather and train driver shortages. The company is working with ScotRail, as part of the Alliance, to turn around punctuality for passengers.
  • Enhancement projects: Network Rail has successfully completed some major enhancement projects in the past year, including the Borders Railway, Scotland’s first new rail line in over 100 years. However, the electrification work on the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) is behind schedule and could cost more than expected.  There are also cost pressures on other projects, and ORR is reviewing Network Rail’s plans around costs and capability to provide further challenge on efficiency and delivery.

ORR’s chief executive Joanna Whittington said:

Scotland’s railways have seen sustained investment in recent years, supporting a further rise in passenger numbers.  Network Rail is making good progress on health and safety and its programme to improve asset reliability.
Network Rail has successfully delivered some major enhancement projects in the past year, including Scotland’s first new rail line in over 100 years, the Borders Railway. However, there are cost and delivery issues on other projects which need to be addressed.
Over the course of the next year, we need to see evidence that Network Rail’s initiatives are delivering financial efficiencies and noticeable performance improvements for passengers while achieving gains in health and safety.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is the UK’s rail regulator and strategic roads monitor for England. Follow us @railandroad.
  2. ORR protects the interests of rail and road users; improving the safety, value and performance of railways and roads, today and in the future.
  3. Network Rail has benefited from sustained levels of government investment, supporting a substantial increase of passenger numbers in recent years. The number of passenger journeys in Britain has more than doubled in the past twenty years, increasing to nearly 1.7 billion in the last year.
  4. For further information on ORR’s reviews of Network Rail enhancement projects in Scotland, please visit: http://orr.gov.uk/what-and-how-we-regulate/regulation-of-network-rail/monitoring-performance/network-rail-monitor
  5. ORR will be publishing detailed reports looking at the rail industry’s health and safety, and Network Rail’s finance and efficiency performance, later this summer.