Office of Rail and Road Update - September 2018

Welcome to ORR's September Newsletter.

Joanna WhittingtonAfter almost three years as Chief Executive of the ORR, this is my last newsletter as I will soon be moving to take up a new post back in energy at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the ORR working with an excellent team of dedicated professionals. Arrangements to find my permanent successor are underway and we expect to announce arrangements for an interim Chief Executive very shortly.

In the meantime, work at the ORR has continued at pace over the Summer, with the publication of the interim report, our independent inquiry into the causes of the May 2018 timetable disruption. The failure of the timetable led to passengers enduring delays and cancellations as they could not predict how long a journey may take, or even if it was possible to travel. The inquiry found that passengers had been let down by the failures of the rail industry. The industry placed engineering and planning concerns ahead of serving its passengers, and that was made worse by the poor information train operators provided when disruption happened. There is a gap in industry responsibility and accountability for managing systemic risks, and that needs to change.

We have also spent the last month reviewing the 58 responses received to our consultation on our draft determination for the PR18 periodic review of Network Rail. We will be publishing our Final Determination at the end of next month.

Finally, I would also like to congratulate ORR’s Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser, who was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the rail industry at the National Rail Awards earlier this month. The ORR achieves what it does through the hard work of its staff and this award is rightful recognition of Ian’s own personal work to ensure that those responsible make Britain's railways safe for passengers and provide a safe place for staff to work.

If you have any queries on these publications or any other part of our work, please contact

Joanna Whittington

Chief Executive

Top stories

ORR's Inquiry into May Timetable Disruption

Last week, we published our initial report into the causes of May Timetable Disruption. We 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. You can read our full conclusions, including a separate report into ORR’s role, here.

Work continues on the inquiry, which will now move on to analyse what actions the industry, DfT and ORR must take to ensure that a similar breakdown of services cannot happen again. Those recommendations will be published in a Final Report in December.

The inquiry also paid regard to an investigation we opened in February, looking into why Network Rail was unable to finalise timetables 12 weeks in advance, which found systemic failings in the company’s general management of timetable changes. You can read that report here.

Competition Market Study – Gates and Vending Machines

As part of our regulatory function, ORR has a role to apply competition enforcement and markets powers in matters relating to the supply of services relating to railways. We’ve carried out a market study into the supply of ticket vending machines and automatic ticket gates, highlighting concerns about how weak competition in these markets may have detrimental impacts on passengers and taxpayers.

Stations – our role

There are over 2,500 operational train stations in Britain, each providing a gateway to the communities they serve. An important part of ORR’s role is to make sure they are fit for purpose; Gerry Leighton, our head of Stations and Depots, outlines how that work encapsulates nearly our full remit as regulator.

Level crossing safety

Ian Prosser CBE visits level crossing with Jack Brereton MP

ORR has over 100 safety inspectors working across all Great Britain to keep the railway safe. An important part of their role involves inspecting the 7500 level crossings across the UK. HM’s Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser, recently visited level crossings in Stoke-on-Trent with local MP Jack Brereton, to explain the work the ORR does to ensure they remain as safe as possible.