Latest Rail News


Terrible train performance in CP5 so far – Network Rail promises action

Nearly all categories that cause train performance delays “worsened” during the first six periods of CP5, according to a report presented at Network Rail’s recent board meeting. 

Robin Gisby, the company’s outgoing managing director of network operations, presented the paper to the board revealing that specification/operational plan and reactionary delay had been the most impacted categories. 

He stated that the national picture was “severely impacted” by poor performance in the busy south east. Performance by the TOCs had also worsened with “on the best days” 50% of delays being caused by the TOCs, 50% by Network Rail. 

Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) data has revealed that PPM (public performance measure) and CaSL (cancellations and severe lateness targets) performance since the beginning of CP5 has been “well below” the targets specified in Performance Strategies for a significant number of operators. 

For instance, at the end of period seven, 13 out of 18 TOCs had not met their profiled PPM MAA (moving annual average) targets, the largest variances being Southern and Southeastern, who were 1.5 percentage points (pp) and 1.3pp short of target respectively. 

On top of this, Network Rail-caused PPM failures at the end of period seven accounted for 57.7% of the total PPM failures across England and Wales. This figure is 0.1pp worse than at the same point last year. 

Network Rail’s board stated that engaging the TOCs to improve reactionary delay was a “challenge” and was being tackled in numerous ways including via the National Task Force. But it was noted that the need to accelerate the Traffic Management Programme was a key to this. 

ORR added that it met Southern on 30 October to discuss the reasons behind its current poor performance. It said: “We note the impact that platform crowding resulting from the London Bridge redevelopment is having on performance. Network Rail and Southern have identified a number of schemes to recover performance which we will be monitoring closely in the coming months.” 

The regulator also raised the Southeastern performance issues with Network Rail and it has identified a series of initiatives that should recover performance, including actions to resolve “staff shortages at the London Bridge Delivery Unit” and to “remove temporary speed restrictions”. 

“We are monitoring the impact of these initiatives closely and we will escalate the matter within Network Rail if its plan does not appear to be having the anticipated impact,” the ORR stated. 

Richard Price, chief executive of the regulator, said: “We have changed our approach to regulating train punctuality and the performance of the network – focusing on the indicators that will tell us more about Network Rail's likely performance trajectory. 

“This enables us to predict whether Network Rail's work in the coming months will put matters right for passengers. This is vital as too many people are facing too many delays. It is the biggest source of dissatisfaction with the railways, and the industry needs to tackle the problem.” 

Network Rail’s board also stated that whilst improving the ability to deal with reactionary delay was important reducing primary delay was a key priority. However, it was said that there is difficulty in providing really granular data in this area – it being noted that the cause of sub threshold delay, (being delays of less than 3 minutes) was not capable of being captured. 

But Price said: “Without up-to-date knowledge, Network Rail will not have sufficient understanding of how and why its assets fail and its maintenance approach will remain reactive – leading to inefficiencies and hindering its efforts to improve punctuality. 

“The new management at the company has made it clear that it shares our concerns and has committed to address these issues.” 

During the recent board meeting, members did question whether the plans to deliver the various improvements were robust and did delivery of the outputs correlate to improved performance? It was confirmed that the executive were improving plan quality and were increasing the number of material milestones coming to the Executive for review. 

Gisby added that the plan to commission an independent industry review of worsening reactionary delay (0.5% PPM worse year to date) to provide a clear understanding of the impact of control, train crew and rolling stock resources was noted and approved. 

Following on from this, the ORR added “we expect to see evidence of the plan being adjusted appropriately in the light of this underperformance”. 

(Image: c. Alastair Grant/PA Images)

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


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment



Rail industry Focus

  • 02/11/2019Monica Barbosa: Women In Rail

    Director of business development and communications at Xrail, Monica Barbosa, thinks women are missing out on exciting opportunities because the lack of gender diversity in the rail industry.
  • 01/11/2019The dangers of fatigues

    Working long hours, poor health, too little sleep, a demanding job and more can all make us tired and affect our mental and physical performance – and when we’re fatigued we make more...
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

NPR, TRU & Fleetwood Mac

18/10/2019NPR, TRU & Fleetwood Mac

Switch up your playlist with the first #WeAreRTM podcast, gain exclusive insight into the leaders running the rail industry their opinions on recent headlines, visions for the future and meet the personalities behind the job titles. It's no... 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 >