Office of Rail and Road Update - February 2020

Welcome to our February newsletter.

Welcome to our February Newsletter.

This month I’d like to highlight two areas of recent ORR work which focus on issues that matter to passengers: train service performance and passenger information.

On 21 January, I wrote to Network Rail’s CEO setting out our view on the company’s contribution to passenger train service performance in the financial year so far. This identified improvements since 2018-19, but noted the current poor performance in the North West & Central region. We have since been gathering further information to understand whether the region is doing everything reasonably practicable to get its performance back on track. We will assess this as quickly as possible to decide whether we need to take further action.

Passengers want good information about their train services. Last year, we commissioned research into the quality of information that passengers are given, particularly during disruption. This found that while the industry made improvements in recent years, more still needs to be done to ensure that passengers are given the information that they need. The industry has now responded to our challenge following this, committing to present us with a plan by 20 April 2020 setting out how it will achieve the necessary improvements. We will review this plan to ensure it will deliver for passengers.

Looking forward, our annual business planning process is underway. We will again be setting up a series of discussion sessions with stakeholders in a number of locations across the country and look forward to engaging with stakeholders on our plans soon.

John Larkinson
Chief Executive

Top stories

Rail signalling market study

In late January, we launched a study using our competition powers looking at the market for the supply of rail signalling systems. Signalling is an essential part of the network, critical to safety and performance, and accounted for £4bn of Network Rail’s spend over 2014-19. The study will look at whether the supply chain is fair and competitive, and whether the way that it operates delivers the best quality and value for money to infrastructure managers like Network Rail, and ultimately rail users and taxpayers.

Promoting Safety and Health

On 9 January, an ORR prosecution led to a £1.2m fine for DB Cargo Ltd after a young person was electrocuted and suffered life changing injuries at Bescot Freight Yard in 2017.

Anna SaundersTicketing: Passengers' Rights

ORR research has shown that more work is required to help passengers know more about their rights when buying a rail ticket. Anna Saunders, Senior Manager, Consumer Policy writes about some key findings from the research, and our ‘Know your Rail Rights’ social media campaign.

Efficiency on the RailwayGordon Cole

Gordon Cole, our Head of Efficiency Monitoring, has written about what we have been doing to monitor Network Rail’s progress in delivering against its efficiency plans for CP6. His blog also provides an overview of our most recent assessment on this

Exiting the European Union

Under the post-Brexit transition period agreed by the UK Government and the EU, many of the rights and obligations previously held by ORR and industry parties prior to Brexit will remain in place until December 2020. This means that operator licences, train driver licences and safety certificates issued by ORR will remain valid in the EU until at least the end of the year. Equally, equivalent documents issued in the EU remain valid here.

The transition period also defers the entry into force of the UK’s exit legislation until the end of the year. This means the law we regulate under – and with which regulated businesses must comply – remains unchanged for the time being. We will continue to work closely with the government and the industry while the long term UK-EU relationship is negotiated and in preparation for what will happen after the transition period ends.

Statistical releases

This month we have published stats on: