Office of Rail and Road Special – July 2017

20 July 2017

ORR's July 2017 newsletter.

Reports published this week

Joanna Whittington ORR has this week published our annual regulatory reports on the health and safety of the rail industry, on Network Rail and on Highways England.

Alongside these, we have also provided additional detail on our ongoing periodic reviews of Network Rail (PR18). This includes launching a public consultation, and commissioning an independent study, into Network Rail’s efficiency. This will inform government decisions about the future funding available to Network Rail on which decisions are expected to be taken by 13 October 2017.

These documents are a key part of ORR’s work. Transparently reporting Network Rail and Highways England’s performance provides the evidence to hold the companies to account and protect the interest of rail passengers and road users, now and in the future.

Together, all these reports set out our regulatory perspective on the performance and efficiency of the railway and the strategic road network in England, and our expectations for action by the companies.

Joanna Whittington
Chief Executive, Office of Rail and Road

Top stories

Network Rail Annual Assessment

We have issued our annual report on Network Rail’s performance, the Network Rail Monitor. It finds Network Rail has had a mixed year retaining its position as the safest major railway in Europe, delivering improved reliability of assets, such as the track, but continues to be inefficient particularly on work to renew the railway. In Scotland, Network Rail’s delivery of projects has been mixed. Punctuality has improved but it missed key milestones on the Edinburgh to Glasgow electrification project. We have launched a consultation on the reasons for the renewals inefficiency and the steps being taken by Network Rail, and ourselves, to address these.

Health and Safety Annual Assessment

We have launched our Annual Report on Railway Health and Safety performance. Passengers on the mainline railway have continued to be assured of a safe journey on Britain’s railways, but we have identified challenges which must be carefully managed if passengers and workers are to continue to remain so. In particular, the pressure building as a result of deferrals of renewals, and the need for lessons to be learnt following two incidents this year are causes for concern.

Highways England Annual Assessment

We have published our Annual Assessment of Highways England’s Performance. We found that the company is performing well against most of its performance targets, but that continued improvement is needed to plan when work takes place throughout the year.

Periodic Review – Latest Information

An important stage in this process is for governments to set out what they want from the railway, which they have done today as they published their high level output specifications (HLOSs). We have been told that more time is needed to finalise decisions on what funding will be available, so we have extended the deadline for providing this information to 13 October 2017.

But it is still important that Network Rail is able to continue to develop its route based strategic business plans, so we will shortly be providing the company with planning assumptions for this.

To keep a strong focus on Network Rail’s efficiency, we are consulting on the causes of Network Rail’s renewals inefficiency, and are 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.

Consumers Annual Report

We will shortly be publishing our second annual report on the service consumers receive from the railway. Measuring Up will build on last year’s report, setting out our view on where rail operators are focusing, and should focus more attention to deliver a better service for passengers.