On top of disruption at London King’s Cross and Paddington in Christmas 2014 (RAIL 765), the Office of Rail and Road describes similar problems at London Bridge in the same month as “another example of an incident which has resulted in a detrimental impact on passengers and where NR has not demonstrated it is putting passengers at the heart of planning”.
The ORR’s view is amplified by a separate investigation into performance deficits in Scotland (although this resulted in no fine), which it describes as “the third occasion in recent years in which timetabling issues have caused problems”. The ORR says it will be monitoring future timetable changes.
Although the ORR appears frustrated about major enhancements, it notes that the majority of train operating companies (TOCs) felt NR’s milestone delivery was good.
However, TOCs have criticised NR for its approach to project enhancements, with some suggesting that NR underestimates risk and the benefits of upgrade works - a finding the ORR says contributed to a shortfall in 2014-15 performance.
“It is clear that a number of operators have concerns around the performance planning process,” said the ORR.
And the regulator supports these views. It criticises enhancement schemes being abandoned or delivering fewer than expected benefits, alongside a “wide-ranging and significant optimism bias in the estimation of benefits”.
- For more on this story, see RAIL 781 published on August 19 2015