Regulator finds Network Rail has made progress in NW&C region but still has work to do

Rail Regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has issued a progress report, one year on from having criticised Network Rail for poor train performance in the North West and Central (NW&C) region.

The ORR has found that progress has been made, but an extended focus is required in the coming months to ensure improvements are fully delivered for passengers and freight.

In May 2020, ORR found Network Rail had identified the main causes of poor performance and had started to develop remedial action plans but lacked delivery timescales. ORR consolidated its conclusions into a series of 25 recommendations to strengthen these improvement plans across the region.

Network Rail accepted all of these recommendations and the ORR is satisfied that 19 of the recommendations have been addressed.  However, it still has concerns about the slow progress of six recommendations, which primarily relate to asset management although two are on operations.

In a letter to route managing director Tim Shoveller, the ORR recognised that the region has made good progress with electrification works and understanding unexplained failures on the network, but it still has to develop many of the processes which it agreed, including:

  • Improving the capabilities of staff in making timely interventions to issues such as track faults or drainage problems;
  • Further developing its weather resilience and climate change plan;
  • Reviewing how the region manages track side vegetation.
Graham Richards, ORR.

Graham Richards, director of planning and performance at ORR, said: “We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic and Putting Passengers First reorganisation has affected the pace of progress.

“While good progress has been made on the majority of our recommendations, we now expect a final push on addressing those that remain.

“We will keep our enhanced monitoring in place for the time being as we continue to hold the NW&C region to account for delivering these improvements.”

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