ORR annual assessment of Network Rail in Scotland: Punctuality is good but project planning and delivery must improve

20 July 2017

ORR has today published its review of Network Rail’s performance in Scotland, showing that it has made good progress on improving punctuality but that ORR has serious concerns over its planning and delivery of enhancement projects.

Punctuality in Scotland has improved since the implementation of a performance recovery plan, with Network Rail surpassing the 90.6% target between January and March 2017.

Network Rail’s work to rejuvenate Scotland’s railway has seen it successfully deliver the new Edinburgh Gateway station. This has been overshadowed by major overrunning of the Edinburgh to Glasgow line electrification and concerns around the costs of the Stirling Dunblane Alloa electrification project. ORR has commissioned an independent review of the Stirling Dunblane Alloa project to assess progress on delivery and costs and will be carrying out a lessons learnt review on the Edinburgh to Glasgow project.

Network Rail’s safety performance has remained steady in Scotland and elsewhere in Britain. ORR has highlighted the need to retain a focus on maintenance and inspection given the pressures arising from financial borrowing constraints and from the deferral of work to renew the railway.

Network Rail is carrying out work on its core business in Scotland, 11.2% more efficiently than it did three years ago. However, the company’s financial performance including enhancements remains poor, largely because it overspent on electrification projects including on the line from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Overall, the company is within its spending limits, however this has been largely achieved through the deferral of work to renew and enhance the railway. It is important that the efficiency plans it has in place for 2017/18 materialise.

Today the Scottish Government has set out what they want Network Rail to deliver between 2019-2024. Alongside this, we have taken further steps to support Network Rail’s planning process, including:

-setting out our view and consulting on the causes of Network Rail’s renewals inefficiency, and what ORR is doing differently to assess the company’s plans, drawing on lessons learnt; and
-commissioning a further study by an independent consultant into Network Rail’s progress developing its proposals on the efficient level of maintenance and renewals spend needed.

The results of the efficiency consultation and study will inform the decision by the UK and Welsh and Scottish Governments about the future funding available to Network Rail. ORR has extended the deadline for Governments to set out the railway they wish to fund between 2019-2024 from 20 July to 13 October 2017.

Joanna Whittington, ORR chief executive, said:

“Network Rail has worked well with ScotRail to improve punctuality in recent months and it must continue this good work.

“Passengers are also benefitting from the new station at Edinburgh Gateway. However, Network Rail’s poor planning and delivery on some major projects, such as electrification of Edinburgh to Glasgow, has let passengers down. We’re reviewing progress on the Stirling Dunblane Alloa project and pressing Network Rail to give passengers and funders greater assurance on delivery.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. Network Rail Monitor, Scotland 2016/17
  2. Network Rail Monitor, England and Wales 2016/17
  3. Annual health and safety report
  4. About the next price control, PR18
  5. HLOS/SoFA documents
  6. Consultation on improving Network Rail’s renewals efficiency
  7. ORR protects the interests of rail and road users; improving the safety, value and performance of railways and roads, today and in the future. Follow us @railandroad.