ORR’s changed approach to holding Network Rail to account will benefit passengers and other railway users

27 November 2018

Beginning today, and running until January 25th, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is consulting on a new regulatory policy for holding Network Rail to account for the benefit of passengers and other railway users.

Complementing ORR’s ‘Final Determination for Control Period 6’, the proposed policy means ORR will target those areas that have the most serious impact and detriment to passengers, freight customers and funders.

The new policy will prioritise progress over process to reach early and pragmatic resolution of problems. It is based on a three-stage approach:

  • Stage 1: Routine monitoring and assessment of Network Rail’s performance.
    Drawing on a range of new data sources, we can compare and contrast performance across local routes, including highlighting good practice that can then be shared across the whole network. Our new policy places particular emphasis on assessing the strength of Network Rail’s stakeholder engagement and collaborative working across its business.
  • Stage 2: Investigation and early resolution of concerns to protect rail users.
    Here, the regulator will step in early where necessary to protect rail users, and we are proposing new regulatory tools including holding ORR Hearings and requiring Network Rail to put in place formal improvement plans at an earlier stage than currently.
  • Stage 3: Enforcement – If Network Rail is unable to resolve issues, we may take enforcement action. Our new policy introduces an option to impose financial sanctions on routes (or system operator) that can affect Network Rail bonuses. The policy also includes a new approach to financial penalties (fines) that allows ORR to scale penalties so as to be capable of being funded by management bonuses. Both approaches avoid diverting funding from the operational railway while making a difference where it matters.

Linked to this new policy is ORR’s consultation on its proposed approach to carrying out more detailed annual assessments of elements of Network Rail’s stakeholder engagement.

Graham Richards, Director, Railway Planning and Performance, ORR said: "There have been significant changes to Network Rail’s business in recent years and to reflect this we are changing the way we hold Network Rail to account. Our new approach puts passengers and other railway users firmly at the centre of concerns while placing strong emphasis on Network Rail working together with its customers to solve problems early.

"Passengers, business and the entire rail industry need Network Rail to deliver a high-quality service: resolving issues early is important.

"ORR’s regulation will target the areas that have most serious impact on all rail users, and do so early. Of course, our strongest sanctions remain to address serious and long term failures."

Notes for editors

  1. Further information on the 2018 periodic review (PR18) of Network Rail’s plans for CP6
  2. About the consultation process
  3. Holding Network Rail to account pyramid diagram
  4. Consultation on ORR’s approach to assessing the quality of Network Rail’s stakeholder engagement in CP6