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Glaister Report: ORR forces Network Rail to report back on ‘failing’ timetabling process by April

After deciding that Network Rail is breaching its network licence by failing to deliver on its performance obligations, the ORR has ordered the infrastructure owner to publish a plan, by 1 April 2019, outlining a series of major points regarding its operation of an effective and transparent process for timetabling.

This comes as part of the regulator’s final Glaister Report after it ruled that improvements made following the May timetable chaos have not been extensive enough.

By April, Network Rail must provide the ORR with a report setting out how it will continue to run an effective process for the timetables due to be published after May next year, including by being more transparent with stakeholders; make information on the number of late notice changes available on its website; provide an outline of how it will, within CP6, report on the progress of strengthening timetable technology capability; and most importantly, write a plan for how it intends to lead the industry review of Part D of the Network Code – which creates the slots of new services into the timetable.

“This will include consideration of whether Part D should explicitly set out go/no go decision points,” the ORR clarified in a statement.

Published today, Phase 2 of the ORR’s inquiry into the failure of the implementation of the May timetable has stated that greater improvement to the timetabling process is expected.

The regulator also recommended increased industry board insight over major network change and new, independent system-wide advice and auditing to be introduced as soon as possible. This can help spot and address issues before they affect passengers, as was the case this year during a tumultuous schedule roll-out.

As part of its final review, the ORR has issued Network Rail with a draft Final Order requiring the company to take further steps to improve its timetabling process, just a week after it took action against the infrastructure manager over poor performance.

Network Rail must now set out by April next year how it will lead a review of Part D of the Network Code which covers how slots for new timetables are created, and must explain how it will embed changes made of the last five months and how it will report on the ongoing delivery of capability improvements.

The final report from the ORR follows the Phase 1 inquiry published in September, which blasted Chris Grayling, Network Rail, and the DfT’s handling of the widespread crisis. The report found that “no one took charge” when issues started to arise and argued that the industry had placed engineering and planning concerns ahead of serving its passengers.

As such, the ORR has today reiterated that the interests of passengers must be “put at the heart of key decisions for major rail projects” and called for the industry to work together to improve how information is provided to passengers.

The chair of both the ORR and the inquiry, Stephen Glaister, said: “Passengers were let down by the rail industry on 20 May and the weeks that followed.

“Our recommendations will now mean that in every project, impact on passengers will be a central consideration – as it should always be. More fundamental changes are needed in the longer term.”

The regulator added that the Williams Review, which yesterday launched a call for evidence from a range of stakeholders, will look into what more fundamental change is needed in the longer term.

The ORR wrote to Network Rail in July to say that it was in breach of its network licence and that it “must do more” to prepare ahead of CP6.


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