The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has called for rapid action by High Speed 1 (HS1) to address missed targets on lift, escalator, and travelator availability; workforce health and safety; and train performance.
The ORR's annual assessment of HS1 found that the company had made improvements since the regulator raised concerns about asset renewals last year, but that it had still missed expectations on these key performance indicators.
On lift, escalator, and travelator availability, HS1 had a target of 98% availability for the year, but it only achieved 95%. This means that passengers were inconvenienced by lifts and escalators being out of service more often than they should have been.
As well as station assets underperforming in certain areas, HS1 had a target of an average delay of no more than 10 seconds per train, but it actually recorded an average delay of 7.25 seconds per train.
The ORR did acknowledge that supply chain issues had caused issues and was satisfied that HS1 is taking reasonable steps to improve its performance in these areas. However, it is calling for rapid action to address the concerns that have been raised.
The ORR's director of railway planning and performance, Feras Alshakar said: Our report shows a disappointing experience for the rail users and train operators using HS1’s stations. ORR has been actively working with HS1 and we are satisfied that HS1’s plans to address these concerns are proportionate and deliverable.
"HS1 must now work rapidly to ensure its plans are implemented successfully."
ORR also singled out Network Rail for criticism regarding health and safety. Network Rail are HS1’s main contractor currently and recorded a higher rate of injuries on the network. An issue that ORR has challenged both HS1 and Network Rail to improve in the coming year.
HS1 has responded to the ORR's findings by saying that it is committed to improving its performance and that it is already taking steps to address the issues that have been raised.
An HS1 Spokesperson said: “While we are disappointed, and disagree, with the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) suggestion that HS1 stations provide poor user experience, we are pleased they recognise that where we have missed any target, it has been due to factors largely out of HS1’s control or is non-contractual.
“Despite narrowly missing our route performance ‘stretch’ target – set by HS1 itself to maintain exemplary standards – we comfortably hit the contractual target set by the ORR. The ORR themselves recognise that train performance on HS1 ‘remains much better than the mainline railway in Britain’.
“Additionally, while we recognise concerns regarding health and safety targets, the rate of workplace injuries remains below legal obligations. The ORR themselves note that there is an underlying, national trend influencing these incidents, such as assaults on staff.
“Finally, we have worked closely with manufacturers to resolve issues affecting our lifts & elevators. As such, our availability average is 96.9%, narrowly below the 98% target.
“HS1 is committed to continuing to provide an excellent service for all rail users and train operators, and we will work with the ORR to continue taking what they themselves recognise are satisfactory steps to deliver further improvements.”
Photo Credit: IStock
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