Inquiry into May 2018 network disruption

In May 2018 a new timetable was introduced for large parts of Britain’s railway network, which caused major disruption to services for passengers especially in the North of England and in the South East.

At the request of the Government, ORR established an Inquiry into the factors that contributed to the failure to produce and implement a satisfactory operational timetable in May 2018.

The Inquiry has been conducted in addition to and alongside ORR’s existing monitoring and investigation activity that began in February 2018. This has looked into the compliance of Network Rail and the train operators with the terms of their licences in relation to the timeliness of the provision of timetable information to operators and passengers.

September 2018 findings

20 September 2018

The three-month Inquiry has found that Network Rail, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Northern, the Department for Transport (DfT), and the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) all made mistakes, which contributed to the collapse of services, particularly on the GTR and Northern routes.

A key issue, found by the Inquiry, is that there is an apparent gap in industry responsibility and accountability for managing systemic risks, and that needs to change.

Other key findings are:

  • The System Operator (SO) function within Network Rail  was in the best position to understand and manage the risks, but did not take sufficient action, especially in the critical period of autumn 2017
  • Neither GTR nor Northern were properly aware of or prepared for the problems in delivering the timetable and they did not do enough to provide accurate information to passengers when disruption occurred
  • Both DfT and ORR are responsible for overseeing aspects of the industry, but neither sufficiently questioned assurances they received from the industry about the risk of disruption.

The ORR's report into its role in the timetabling issues has been published.

Inquiry findings - September 2018

Publications

The Timetable Inquiry Independent Advisory Panel Members

  • Dame Deirdre Hutton, DBE, became Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority on 1 August 2009 having previously been Chair of the Food Standards Agency until July 2009. She has served on a number of public bodies and has considerable experience of corporate governance, risk-based regulation and consumer policy. She sits as a Non-Executive on the board of Thames Water Utilities Ltd, is Pro-Chancellor of Cranfield University and is Honorary Vice President of the Trading Standards Institute.
  • Mike Brown, MVO, was appointed Commissioner of Transport for London in September 2015. He joined London Underground in 1989 and worked in various operational manager roles before becoming the company's Chief Operating Officer in 2003. In 2008, he left to head up Heathrow, then the world's busiest international airport. He rejoined London Underground in 2010 as Managing Director and took the lead role in the successful delivery of transport for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • Anne Heal has a particular focus on customer and consumer issues; she is currently a non-executive member of the ORR Board, the Chair of the Thames Water Customer Challenge Group, and a lay member of the General Dental Council. She chairs the charity Volunteering Matters and is a Board member of ELEXON. She is a trustee of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and BalletBoyz. She was Group Regulatory Affairs Director of BT, and Openreach’s first Managing Director of Strategy.
  • Michael Beswick has extensive senior level experience spanning the rail industry and its regulation. After joining British Rail as a graduate trainee he had a range of front-line operational and business management jobs. Working for ORR he had leading roles in the development of regulatory policy and the structure of the industry, infrastructure regulation and relationships with stakeholders. He was an executive member of the ORR Board from 2006 until his retirement in 2013.