ORR takes formal action against Network Rail to deliver improved performance

29 November 2018

Passengers rely on both Network Rail and train operators to deliver performance but the role of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is to examine Network Rail’s contribution. As such, ORR has today taken action against Network Rail to require improvements in its capability to deliver better performance.

ORR’s half year ‘Network Rail Monitor’, covering April to mid-October 2018 and published today, shows punctuality and reliability at their lowest levels since the current five year control period began in 2014, with factors such as extreme weather and problems implementing the May 2018 timetable playing a part.

As well as ORR’s own monitoring, a series of recent independent reviews into train performance have now concluded and highlighted many areas where Network Rail, and train operators, must improve.

Evidence from these reviews indicate weaknesses specifically with both Network Rail’s approach to performance planning and its capability to recover services following incidents. ORR considers Network Rail to appear to be contravening Licence Condition 1: Network Management.

The Provisional Order issued today requires Network Rail and its Route Managing Directors to take the following urgent action to address these failings:

  • Step up engagement and work with train operators to review and develop actions to address the underlying causes that have led to the findings identified in the relevant reviews (referred to above);
  • Deliver a report to ORR by 15 February 2019, detailing how it is identifying the common underlying issues relating to performance planning and its capability to recover service from incidents on its network. We also require the report to address how Network Rail is implementing the conclusions of its report;
  • Provide ORR with subsequent and regular updates on progress in delivering its report. These updates may include any interim findings and representations regarding the extent to which it considers it is doing everything reasonably practicable to meet its obligations in Condition 1 in relation to its performance management capability.

Today’s Monitor also reports on Network Rail’s progress with getting ready to deliver efficiently in CP6, the five-year control period that starts in April 2019.

Network Rail is in a better position than it was at this point five years ago to deliver the volumes of work required and improve efficiency. In terms of where we expect the company to be it has made progress establishing a more efficient work planning system, secured better access to the network for its engineering works and recruited more maintenance staff.

However, Network Rail’s plans to make efficiency savings are less advanced than they need to be and there is more to do in the four months before CP6 starts. We will report publicly on Network Rail’s progress again in March 2019.

John Larkinson, Chief Executive, ORR said: "Today’s decision is a clear demonstration of ORR’s approach to how we will hold Network Rail to account.

"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.

"We need to act now, rather than wait for the end of the financial year, to ensure Network Rail is ready for the start of the next control period, CP6, on 1 April 2019."

Notes to editors

  1. Delivering good train performance is not just an issue for Network Rail, and it will need to work closely with its train operator customers to deliver the necessary improvements.
  2. The Provisional Order relates to performance issues on all routes across England, Scotland and Wales.
  3. We will report our findings on 2018-19 performance as a whole in the next Monitor.
  4. The provisional order pdf icon PDF, 409 Kb
  5. Network Rail Monitor E&W pdf icon PDF, 1,125 Kb
  6. Network Rail Monitor Scotland pdf icon PDF, 881 Kb
  7. 2018-19 performance stats - Punctuality and Reliability stats
  8. The Gibb Review focusing on GTR delivery (December 2016) - Report
  9. ORR investigation into NR’s delivery of performance to Southeastern (July 2017) - Report
  10. The Donovan review of ScotRail performance (March 2018) - Recommendations
  11. Our investigation into SWR’s performance (July 2018) - Report
  12. The Holden review of SWR and Network Rail performance (August 2018) - Report
  13. The Steer review of NR’s performance strategies (September 2018) - not yet published
  14. PR18 (October 2018) - Final determination