Office of Rail and Road Update - September 2019

Welcome to our September newsletter.

In last month’s newsletter I focused on some of the ways in which we are holding Network Rail to account, including through our new senior regulation managers who cover each of Network Rail’s regions.

This month I wanted to highlight the work ORR has been doing over the summer in other areas that we regulate.

Following on from our recent prosecution of Govia Thameslink Railway after a tragic death in 2016, we remain concerned about safety risks from droplight windows. We have therefore written to all train operators who still use rolling stock with droplight windows. We have taken a proportionate approach – recognising there is a difference between rolling stock on the mainline and that on heritage railways (which operate at slower speeds). You can read more about this here.

ORR’s teams have also been busy working on the 2019 periodic review of the High Speed 1 (HS1) network – the 108km of high speed railway linking London with the Channel Tunnel. Following our review of HS1’s proposals for access charges in the next control period (2020-25), we will be publishing our draft decisions for consultation at the end of this month.

After the blackout: Understanding more about the travel disruption on 9 August

Following problems with two power generators on 9 August, there were delays to getting some trains running again which led to significant impacts on passengers. We, along with the industry, have been working with the energy regulator, Ofgem, on its investigation to understand the role that the railway system and infrastructure may have played. We want to identify any lessons learned and minimise the occurrence and severity of incidents like this in the future.

John Larkinson
Chief Executive

Top stories

The importance of drainage in keeping trains on track

In August, heavy rain and flooding led to a series of landslips in the north of England and in Scotland, causing disruption to rail services. Fortunately, awareness of these events was quick enough that no accidents were caused.

With extreme weather events increasingly more likely, making sure that trains are able to run safely is a key issue for ORR. A particular concern are those earthworks and drainage assets where there would be a higher likelihood of a catastrophic incident if a landslip occurred. It is vital that Network Rail manages these assets effectively.

You can read more about our work inspecting Network Rail’s management of its drainage assets here.

No deal Brexit and the railway

It is the UK Government’s position that it would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, but that if this is not possible, the UK will leave without a deal on 31 October.

Following our preparations for a potential ‘no deal’ scenario, we published documents earlier this year setting out the regulatory arrangements that will apply to support a smooth transition for the UK’s railways. You can find these here.


Assisted travel – trains for everyone

Our consumer team have produced a blog explaining their work on improving the accessibility of rail travel for those who need help to complete their journeys.

The Road Ahead: Monitoring Highways England in the next decade

Following the ORR’s recent assessment of Highways England’s performance in 2018-19, this blog discusses that assessment and Highways England’s plans for this year.