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02.08.16

HS1 ‘exceeds expectations’ in performance, says ORR

HS1 met or exceeded targets on delays and financial performance, according to the annual report from the ORR.

The report says that just 0.44% of delays on the network between St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel were entirely attributable to HS1, which has a 30-year contract to operate the network.

However, the rate of delays attributable to HS1 was an increase from the 0.16% achieved last year.

The average delay was 10.12 seconds, against an internal stretch target of 5.5 seconds, but it would have been 5.1 seconds without four major trespass incidents.

Graham Richards, interim director of railway planning and performance at the ORR, said: “It is positive to see the company has performed well in the last financial year, as we would expect for a young railway with relatively new infrastructure assets.

“We will continue to work with HS1 Ltd to ensure that the network continues to meet the needs of its customers, so that a safe, efficient, high-value asset is returned to government at the end of the concession period.”

There were also around 1,750 more trains on the network than had been expected in the last year, mainly due to an increase on the St Pancras – Ashford domestic route.

HS1 also generated income of £70.5m, £4.6m higher than predicted, and spent £66.8m on operating costs, £0.5m lower than assumed. The ORR is now working with HS1 to develop a cost efficiency plan in time for PR19.

The regulator added that there was an increase in the number of service affecting faults for signalling and telecoms. For signalling there has been a higher number of repeat faults including problems with the automatic route setting in the signalling control system. HS1 Ltd is working with their supplier to understand the root cause of these problems.

However, faults with overhead contact systems (OCS) equipment and mechanical & electrical (M&E) systems decreased and track and civils again maintained a zero fault level.

Earlier this year, the Public Accounts Committee warned that delays in evaluating problems with building HS1, including the fact that its costs were higher than its benefits, meant it could not be used to inform the HS2 project.

HS2 is currently facing criticism for being behind schedule and over budget, as well as for faults with its community engagement.

2pm UPDATE

Graeme Thompson, chief financial officer of HS1 Ltd, said: “We welcome the ORR’s annual report on the performance of HS1 and are pleased that it recognises the continued success of the UK’s only high speed railway. The strong growth in traffic on the line, the continued excellent reliability of the HS1 infrastructure and a solid financial performance, are all reflective of our desire to continually improve and set the benchmark for high standards in the UK rail industry. We are also proud that St Pancras International continues to lead the way as the nation’s favourite station – having topped the National Passenger Survey for customer satisfaction in every year since re-opening in 2007.  

“As we look to celebrate the 10th anniversary of HS1 in 2017, we will continue to work hard with our customers, the ORR and the rest of the rail industry to deliver the safest and most reliable railway for our users.”

(Image c. Alvey and Towers)

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