Liverpool Street train station with passengers

Network Rail not delivering consistently, ORR report finds

New statistics from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) revealed today that the UK's railway is still struggling to deliver consistently punctual and reliable journeys, despite some signs of improvement from Network Rail.

The latest quarter saw 69.2% of passenger trains arrive on time, up from 67.7% in the same period last year. However, cancellation rates remained high at 3.5%, though slightly down from 4.1% last year.

ORR's analysis showed that Network Rail has made progress in improving its overall performance, particularly in recent months. This follows the company's implementation of regional performance improvement plans, which were requested by ORR.

Feras Alshaker quote

The chief executive John Larkinson in a letter to Network Rail’s chief executive Andrew Haines commended Network Rail's initial recovery but emphasized that more needs to be done to ensure consistent delivery of train services across the country.

In the letter, Larkinson comments: “Nationally there has been a modest but encouraging improvement in Network Rail’s contribution to the delivery of punctuality and reliability.

“Network Rail has delivered activities broadly as set out in the performance recovery plans provided to ORR following escalation of our concerns, but there is still much to do.” 

He urged the company to focus on infrastructure performance, learn from incidents like the Plessey viaduct derailment, and mitigate the impact of extreme weather.

While Network Rail plays a crucial role, train operators also share responsibility for improving journey quality. ORR highlighted that over half of cancellations are attributed to train operators. The regulator encouraged Network Rail to lead the industry in adopting innovative projects developed to enhance punctuality and reliability.

Regional performance showed varying levels of improvement. While most regions are showing signs of progress, ORR expressed concerns about the Wales & Western region, which has recently prompted an investigation.

ORR Director of Planning and Performance Feras Alshaker acknowledged that passengers in some areas continue to experience disruptions. He said: As the independent regulator, the data we are publishing today bears out the reality that passengers in some areas are still experiencing trains not consistently arriving on time, and high levels of cancellations. However, we are beginning to see signs of improvement in Network Rail’s contribution.

“While these improvements are promising, they aren’t consistent, and as our analysis shows, the company can do much more to ensure that Britain’s railway provides a reliable and punctual service for all its users.

“We recognise that ensuring trains run as planned and to time requires cross-industry collaboration. Network Rail can play an essential part in bringing the rail industry together to build on recent performance improvements and we will work with government to strengthen these relationships.

Photo Credit: iStock

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