ORR's half-year assessment of Network Rail in Scotland

24 November 2016

The Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) half-year assessment of Network Rail, published today, identifies steady performance in its overall management of safety and of its assets. Significant challenges remain in the delivery of major projects and network performance.

Key findings of ORR’s half-year assessment of Network Rail’s performance in Scotland:

  • Safety: Overall performance in health and safety across the rail network is good though there are clear areas for improvement.
  • Network performance: Performance in Scotland is worse than target. An important area of focus for Network Rail is the time taken to recover from disruption and the company has identified this as a key improvement area. The Alliance (Network Rail and ScotRail) have developed a performance improvement plan. We have reviewed the plan and concluded that it’s robust, stretching but achievable. We will continue to closely monitor the progress of the plan and its impact on performance.
  • Assets: Following Network Rail’s updated renewals plans, it is generally ahead of target, though replacement of plain line track is behind planned levels. As part of the updated plans, some renewals work will be deferred to the next control period (2019-2024), and this will need to be taken account of in its future plans.
  • Developing the network: Network Rail has made good progress on projects such as the construction of Edinburgh Gateway Station and the Queen Street track renewals. However, the company is likely to miss its next delivery target for electrification of the line between Edinburgh to Glasgow. We required Network Rail to improve how it plans and delivers major enhancement projects. We have seen some progress, but need to see more.
  • Money: Network Rail is forecasting underperformance against its budget, including an increase in the cost of major enhancement projects. It also has limited financial headroom in its loan facility.

John Larkinson, ORR’s Director of Railway Markets & Economics said:

At the half way point in this five year funding period, our analysis shows that in Scotland, Network Rail has made progress on key areas including safety and asset management.

Network performance has been below target with passengers not receiving the reliable train services they expect. Our evidence shows some improvements in the planning and delivery of major enhancement projects but this is not always making a difference on the ground.

However, Network Rail is committed to improving its planning and delivery of enhancements projects, and has developed a robust performance improvement plan.

Now it’s time for the company to deliver.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is the UK’s rail regulator and strategic roads monitor for England. Follow us @railandroad.
  2. ORR protects the interests of rail and road users; improving the safety, value and performance of railways and roads, today and in the future.
  3. Network Rail has benefited from sustained levels of government investment, supporting a substantial increase of passenger numbers in recent years. The number of passenger journeys in Britain has more than doubled in the past twenty years, increasing to nearly 1.7 billion in the last year.
  4. To read the full report, visit: https://orr.gov.uk/what-and-how-we-regulate/regulation-of-network-rail/monitoring-performance/network-rail-monitor