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ORR enforces improvement plan, but no punishment for Network Rail

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has concluded that Network Rail is already “taking action” to improve the planning and delivery of its CP5 enhancements programme following a formal investigation initiated after a series of missed milestones.

The regulator has accepted that Network Rail’s response to the investigation was positive and collaborative and will therefore not take any further action apart from closely monitoring further improvement delivery.

It had launched an investigation in March following concerns about project deliverability and cost increases as well as Network Rail’s 30 missed targets of its 84 total milestones for 2014-15.

The investigation revealed systemic weaknesses in Network Rail’s handling of CP5 projects, including poor processes for setting initial project requirements, no defined framework for managing complex programmes, a lack of portfolio management capability and low productivity levels.

These issues combined to result in significant underestimates of project timescales, impacting gravely on operational performance and costs.

Network Rail worked alongside the regulator to identify and address all these weaknesses through an enhancement improvement programme which is set to better the way it manages relationships with project sponsors.

The programme will also ensure Network Rail considers safety at a design stage and reforms how costs are estimates, as well as changes project governance, deliverability assessment and monitoring.

The regulator said it will hold the body to account for delivering all these improvements and ensuring the plan is both fit for purpose and adequately put into place.

It recognised that it will be a significant and long-term challenge for the company to integrate and embed these improvements into ‘business as usual’, but noted that they are essential to protect the multi-billion-pound investment paid for by taxpayers, passengers and freight customers.

Richard Price, ORR chief executive, said: “Network Rail’s response to our investigation findings has been positive and collaborative. We welcome its enhancement improvement plan, which requires significant changes to the company’s processes, systems, culture and capability.

“ORR is now closely monitoring Network Rail’s implementation of the necessary improvements, as they are fundamental to ensuring delivery of enhancements on time and budget for passengers and customers.”

RTM had previously revealed the full list of Network Rail’s missed targets, specific shortcomings and full background information on the investigation.

(Top image c. Jonathan Brady)


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