The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has set out its annual assessment of Network Rail’s performance in England and Wales, which shows that Network Rail’s routes have more to do to prepare for its £34bn five year plan for Britain’s railway (Control Period 6), which starts on 1 April 2019.
ORR’s assessment includes:
Preparedness: Planning for Control Period 6 is in its early stages and Network Rail’s routes have more to do, including booking network access for planned work. ORR will continue to monitor the preparedness of each of Network Rail’s routes and will provide an update on their progress in our November Monitor.
Safety on Britain’s railway remains good, with no worker fatalities or industry-caused passenger deaths on Network Rail’s infrastructure or stations in 2017/18. However there is a need for risk management best practice to be adopted across all routes to ensure consistency.
Network reliability overall has improved, with Network Rail achieving a 1.7% reduction in the number of infrastructure-related failures.
Punctuality: 87.6% of trains arrived on time in 2017/18, 4.8 percentage points worse than target. Within this, Network Rail attributed delays were broadly consistent with previous years, however were higher for South Western Railway (SWR) where Network Rail was responsible for 68%. ORR has undertaken a review of Network Rail’s delivery to the Wessex route (primarily serving SWR) and will publish the report shortly.
Renewing the network: Network Rail has deferred £441m of work to renew the railway in 2017-18 in order to keep within its budget. This increases the backlog of renewal work that it must catch up on over the next control period starting in April 2019. This is essential to future reliability and Network Rail’s business plans set out how they plan to do this.
Money: Network Rail’s budget remains tight, with only £100m of headroom allowed for any unanticipated costs in 2018-19. This makes it more likely that the company would have to defer more renewal work to keep within budget.