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ORR takes formal action against Network Rail over poor performance

The ORR is taking formal action against Network Rail to improve its performance as figures show punctuality and reliability are at their lowest levels since the current five-year control period began.

The regulator has issued a Provisional Order which requires Network Rail and its route managing directors to take a series of urgent action to address failings.

The ORR’s half-year ‘Network Rail Monitor’ found that extreme weather – from snow to severe heat – and issues implementing the turbulent May timetables have all contributed to infrastructure manager’s poor performance.

Network Rail is in a better position than at this point five years ago to deliver its work, but its plans to make efficiency savings “are less advanced than they need to be and there is more to do in the four months before CP6 starts.”

The ORR’s recommended urgent actions include stepping up engagement and work with TOCs to review and develop actions to address the previous failings.

Network Rail must also now hand a report to the ORR by 15 February 2019, and provide the ORR with subsequent and regular updates on progress in delivering it report.

John Larkinson, the regulator’s chief executive, said: “Today’s decision is a clear demonstration of ORR’s approach to how we will hold Network Rail to account.

“Passengers and freight customers rely on Network Rail for punctual and reliable train services and the evidence we have collected suggests to us that Network Rail is failing to take all reasonable steps to effectively manage performance and recover from incidents on its network.

“This is a capability issue which must be addressed urgently. We need to act now, rather than wait for the end of the financial year, to ensure Network Rail is ready for the start of the next control period, CP6.”

The monitor report analysed NR’s progress in preparing for CP6, the five-year control period starting in April 2019. The ORR will report publicly on the rail body’s progress again in March 2019.

The ORR said in July that the Network Rail “must do more” to prepare ahead of the £34bn five-year plan when it set out its annual assessment of performance.

In response to the news, Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “We know that train performance has not been what our passengers deserve. We have let them down and we take responsibility for the part we have played in poor train service reliability.”

He added that Network Rail is fully committed to leading the industry back to higher levels of performance and would implement its own measures as well as working closely with its industry partners.

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