Network Rail promised a kicking over late trains
The Office of Rail Regulation has got the belt out and started cracking its knuckles in the face of Network Rail as they hope to get the train operator to sort themselves out over the punctuality of their trains.
If they don't, they've been promised a 'substantial' penalty.
The ORR thinks that Network Rail is likely to imminently breach its operating licence, leaving them no choice but to prepare an enforcement notice. The ORR found that Network Rail had 'struggled to cope' regarding their long distance punctuality target.
While the ORR conceded that cable theft contributed to late trains, they insisted that NR could do more, concluding that a number of problems have been 'of the company's own making', notably concerning problems with timetable planning and poor handling of equipment failures.
The ORR's chief executive Richard Price said: “Let me be clear – we expect Network Rail to hit targets, and to achieve this by implementing sustainable improvements that really benefit passengers. In the last year, approximately 13.7 million long distance journeys were affected by late or cancelled trains – and this is unacceptable. That is why we are proposing a penalty which puts pressure on Network Rail to achieve its funded target – an incentive for the company to do everything it can to deliver improvements.
“We will not allow Network Rail to rest at ‘good’ performance when the public have paid the company to achieve excellence. It is our duty as the regulator to push for improvements for passengers – and that is what we will do.”
Network Rail chief executive David Higgins responded to the warning, saying: "We accept the challenge to deliver an even better service. We are determined to do all we can to achieve that, through balancing the continued growth in demand with passengers’ desire for improved reliability.”