Office of Rail and Road Update - March 2019

Welcome to our March Newsletter.

I spoke at the annual Transport Times conference, sharing a platform alongside Andrew Haines, Keith Williams and others. A common thread throughout all our contributions was the clear importance of putting passengers and other users at the heart of or the operation and development of the rail network. That is a clear focus of ORR; the fundamental role of regulation is to look after the interests of users, now and in the future. Part of that is making sure that all voices and perspectives are properly considered in plans for the future development of the railway.

For us, a significant part of that responsibility is delivered through our core processes – licensing, access, and of course safety work that goes on day-to-day, supporting the network to operate efficiently, safely and delivering a good service for everyone that uses it.

However, when things do not work as they should, it’s also our role to investigate what went wrong, and take appropriate action. This month we’ve concluded investigations into how information was delivered to passengers following the disruption arising from the introduction of the new time table in May last year. We found that GTR failed to provide appropriate, accurate and timely information to passengers following the introduction of the new timetable and have fined them £5m.

We have also concluded a prosecution following a serious injury to a child at a rail depot, which resulted in a £2.7m fine for DB Cargo.

We are keen, though, that enforcement activity is always the final step, and that using the right levers and making interventions at the right point should solve problems before enforcement is necessary. To that end, we have just published the conclusions of our consultation on a new policy for holding Network Rail to account.

John Larkinson

Chief Executive

Top stories

GTR/Northern Investigation

Following the severe disruption caused by the introduction of the May 2018 timetable changes, ORR initiated investigations into how information on the disruption was provided to passengers. ORR found that GTR broke rules on passenger information, and has levied a £5m fine on the company.

Chloe Barton Safety

This month, a prosecution brought by ORR saw DB Cargo fined £2.7m after a child was seriously injured at a rail depot. The details of the prosecution are here: and ORR legal Advisor Chloe Barton has also written on one aspect of the case, relating to ORR’s powers to request documentation for inspection.

Jennifer Webber Business Planning

Our business planning involves extensive engagement across our stakeholder base.

Head of External Engagement Jennifer Webber explains how these discussions informed our plans for the next year.


Part of our role is ensuring that rail markets are competitive and fair for passengers, freight customers, operators and taxpayers. We have published recommendations following a market study into the supply of automatic ticket gates and ticket vending machines, which revealed weaknesses in competition which, in turn, have had a negative impact on price, quality and innovation, which have a clear impact on passengers and taxpayers.

Harry GarnhamA14 Improvement Scheme

ORR monitors Highways England’s performance in delivering investment in our motorways and major A roads.  Harry Garnham, our Head of Performance, Highways, writes about a recent site visit to a major improvement scheme on the A14.


Our consultation around our review of delay attribution closes today.

This week we opened a consultation into regulating network rail’s land disposals. This closes on 22nd April.