Urgent decisions are needed if major timetable improvements are to be delivered as planned to the East and West Coast main lines.
Writing to Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines and the Department for Transport on April 5, Office of Rail and Road Chief Executive John Larkinson said that timetabling projects on both the key Anglo-Scottish corridors “are at crucial decision-making points”.
On the West Coast, the ORR says a “final investment decision by Government to implement a power supply solution is needed imminently, for Network Rail to make it operational by 2024”.
The regulator also said that NR needed to “imminently set out its plan for completing the timetable production process to ensure industry understands and can follow the timescales”.
“As industry is now less than 40 weeks from the timetable change, it is increasingly urgent that funder and operator decisions are made to ensure sufficient time for industry planning,” Larkinson warned in his letter.
“Delays will not only make Network Rail’s work more challenging but reduce the time available to ensure efficient resource planning and transparency for all operators.”
Changes related both to the southern section of the WCML and to work by the Manchester Recovery Task Force are planned to be incorporated into the timetable this December.
Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the regulator says that delaying decisions beyond April “risks the same late decision on go/no-go as we saw in 2021. This resulted in uncertainty for train and freight operators requesting access to the network.”
A new timetable is planned for May next year, but key decisions remain open, including on platform capacity at Newcastle.
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