Office of Rail and Road Update - August 2019

Welcome to our August Newsletter.

Welcome to ORR's August Newsletter.

While August will be relatively quiet in terms of ORR publications, I wanted to draw attention to our recent publication (at the end of July) of our new guidance to train and station operators for producing their Accessible Travel Policies (ATPs). These policies set out the service that operators will provide to those requiring assistance when travelling. Our new guidance replaces a ten year old document and takes account of significant changes in passengers’ expectations since 2009.

The new guidance includes a number of improvements that operators should reflect when they are next due to revise their ATP, including a reduction in the amount of notice passengers need to give to receive assistance. It follows extensive research and significant engagement with stakeholders, including disability groups, on current issues that mean passengers do not always receive the service that they expect. More information on the new guidance is available here.

Our new guidance follows on from the advice that the Williams Rail Review asked us to provide on what further changes could be made to improve accessibility for passengers, beyond those that could be delivered through our updated ATP guidance. Those recommendations are available here.

John Larkinson
Chief Executive

Top stories

Annual efficiency and financial assessment

On 26 July, we published our annual efficiency and financial assessment of Network Rail for 2018-19, the final year of control period 5 (CP5), and for CP5 as a whole. The document compares Network Rail’s actual efficiency and financial performance against its own plans. It also provides important context for control period 6 (CP6), which began on 1 April 2019.

Our assessment covers Great Britain as a whole, as well as Scotland, Wales and each of Network Rail’s routes in England. The document is available here.

Eastern Region performance

In our latest Network Rail Monitor (published in July), we noted that the worst performing train operators in 2018-19 all used infrastructure on the East Coast Main Line (part of Network Rail’s Eastern Region). Our analysis indicated that no single party caused the large rise in delay. In fact, the largest percentage change was due to the delays that train operators caused to each other, rather than those caused by Network Rail.

Under our new holding Network Rail to account policy (published in March 2019), we aim to take a more proactive approach to resolve concerns more promptly – particularly where this will minimise harm to passengers and freight customers, and potentially avoid the need to take enforcement action later.

Reflecting this and the challenges that the ECML faces in CP6, Graham Richards, ORR’s director of planning & performance, wrote to Rob McIntosh, managing director of Network Rail’s Eastern Region in July. The letter requested a meeting to discuss the region’s plans for this year. As part of this, we want to better understand the interface with train operators and where Network Rail is reliant on them to deliver.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

New starters - senior regulation managers

To support ORR’s approach to holding Network Rail to account in CP6, we have appointed senior regulation managers to align with Network Rail’s new devolved structure. These colleagues will act as our leads for Network Rail’s regions and its system-level functions, and have an important role in engaging with senior stakeholders in both Network Rail and the wider industry. They will also work closely with colleagues across ORR to ensure that we make effective and joined up decisions as a regulator. Our four leads are:

  • Ashley Goddard (Eastern and Southern regions)
  • Liz McLeod (Scotland’s Railway)
  • Esther Sumner (System level, covering Network Rail’s System Operator and freight)
  • Rebecca Kent (North West & Central and Wales & Western regions)

Blog - Devolution of the Valley Lines: what the ORR is doing

In July, ORR published a blog setting out the role ORR is playing in Transport for Wales’ programme to transform passenger services in Wales.

The blog, written by ORR’s Nick Layt, is available here.