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Network Rail releases report into Christmas engineering overrun

Massive delays in testing new signalling, work site equipment failures and insufficient contingency all contributed to the engineering work overruns on Saturday 27 December, according to a report released by Network Rail.

The review, led by NR Managing Director, Infrastructure Projects Dr Francis Paonessa was published on January 12 after NR Chief Executive Mark Carne demanded answers as to why engineering possessions close to King’s Cross and Paddington had exceeded the time allocated.

In the report’s foreword, Carne said that a number of improvements needed to be made that deserved special prominence.

Carne said he wanted to “improve the effectiveness of our project and operational contingency plans so that we put minimising passenger disruption at the very heart of our planning”. NR would also improve the performance of its critical contractors, “and in the case of one contractor, do a better job of working with them to improve their signalling commissioning process”.

Responding to the report, Passenger Focus Chief Executive Anthony Smith, said: “Passengers caught up in the disruption on December 27 deserve a full, clear explanation. People bought tickets or relied on the rail industry’s promises and were badly let down and, in some cases, seemingly left to fend for themselves.”

Smith added that “confusion reigned” at Paddington while at King’s Cross, “the lack of a reliable Plan B” meant that Finsbury Park had to act as an ad-hoc long-distance terminus at the last moment.

“Passengers and government are pouring billions into the railways – they deserve better than this.”

  • A detailed story looking at the report will appear in RAIL 766, published on January 21.

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