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Network Rail performance criticised by regulator

Network Rail has spent £40 million more than its own budget assumptions for the year to date, and forecasts an overspend of £112 million for 2014-15, according to the Office of Rail Regulation.

This is largely due to spend on two significant new initiatives - the Tidy Railway and the Business Critical Rules Programme, which were not included in its 2014-15 budget.

NR has also not made the expected progress in the early stages of certain enhancement projects - such as the strategic freight network at Ipswich Yard and phase 2 of Barry to Cardiff Queen Street corridor - raising questions regarding its ability to deliver the ambitious enhancements programme. ORR has asked Network Rail to produce an improvement plan to demonstrate how it will make up for the delays.

The figures were released today (November 20), in the latest NR performance data and analysis covering April-October 2014.

The report highlights that train service performance is generally below expectations. The regulator’s evidence also suggests that the quality of data that Network Rail relies upon to plan and manage work on Britain’s railways is currently unreliable in places, and that this may be hindering its efforts to meet its funded targets. 

National train punctuality is currently 89.1%, 0.7 percentage points short of the level expected at this point. Network Rail is making progress against its own two-year performance recovery plan, but this is not having the desired effect on punctuality. ORR has asked for the plan to be adjusted appropriately, in light of this underperformance.

The company has reported delivering less work than it had planned, in both maintaining and renewing the network. There is a lack of reliable data on bridges, structures and earthworks, as well as volumes of work being delivered. This is having an adverse impact on Network Rail’s ability to work effectively.

However, Network Rail has made good progress in reducing safety risk at level crossings, mainly through a programme of closures but also through more effective risk assessment and the implementation of new technology and better systems.

  • For more information, see RAIL 763, published December 10.


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  • Hummingbird - 21/11/2014 12:51

    Network Rail's disastrous Business Critical Rules Programme is an unbelievably naive and confusing mixture of 'role manuals', means of compliance tables, complicated flow charts, bow-ties, plagiarized bits of standards, anti-standards propaganda and 100 vague 'rules' policed by a 'fair culture' court. All these horrendously complicated bits and pieces are supposed to be somehow updated and managed independently by depots. After years of strife and several name changes, The Business Critical Programme's only achievement so far is the disintegration of NR's successful standards management and compliance activities.

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