Latest Rail News


Better punctuality or fines, ORR warns Network Rail

Network Rail has been instructed to deliver better punctuality for long distance train services, or face a “substantial financial penalty” – totalling £1.5m for every tenth of a percentage point by which it misses its target.

The ORR has warned that the company must improve towards meeting its punctuality target of 92% in 2013-14. Punctuality on long-distance services is currently at 89.2% 

The ORR accepts that some challenges, such as cable theft, are beyond Network Rail’s direct control but added that the company “could have done more to deal with risks to performance”.

The size of any financial penalty will reflect the extent of Network Rail’s failure to meet the commitment, the ORR stated, increasing by £1.5m per 0.1 percentage point it drops below the 92% punctuality target.

ORR chief executive, Richard Price, said: “Let me be clear, we expect Network Rail to hit their targets, and to achieve this by implementing sustainable improvements that really benefit passengers.”

In the last year, approximately 13.7 million passengers’ journeys on long distance trains were affected by late or cancelled trains, something Price labelled “unacceptable”.

He continued: “We will not allow Network Rail to rest at ‘good’ performance when the public have paid the company to achieve excellence. It is our duty as the regulator to push for improvements for passengers – and that is what we will do.”

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, welcomed the action being taken and suggested that any fines levied should be re-invested in better facilities and services for the benefit of passengers.

He added: “It will be important that the regulator follows through with what is in effect a suspended sentence if performance does not improve.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of ATOC said: “The regulator is right to take a firm line with Network Rail. The big problem for long distance rail passengers is lack of consistency in train service punctuality and Network Rail needs to do a better job of managing the track and signals to resolve this.”

David Higgins, chief executive of Network Rail, accepted the challenge to deliver a better service and said: “We are determined to do all we can to achieve that through balancing the continued growth in demand with passengers’ desire for improved reliability in terms of punctuality.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at

Image c. Passenger Focus


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment



Rail industry Focus

  • 11/09/2019The next generation of rail infrastructure

    How the rail industry delivers the next generation of complex infrastructure will rely heavily on the people tasked with leading the projects, and the technology they use to do it. Faithful+Gould...
  • 11/09/2019Putting passengers first

    How does the rail industry design the railways for the next 40 years, and when it does, how do we make sure it’s all done with the passenger in mind? Jane Fisher joined three members of the Arup team...
View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

17/09/2019Connecting Network Rail with the supply chain

Continuing our mission to connect buyers with suppliers, This year TransCityRail North is adding a new element to the event. We are introducing an incomparable opportunity for you to meet with over 11 procurement directors from Network Rail... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

24/06/2019Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

Ahead of his appearance, Malcolm Holmes spoke with Rail Technology Magazine about what key leaders in the industry were doing to improve rail in the Midlands. He said: “It’s very... more >