Network Rail sets up £4.1m passenger fund as alternative to fine
Network Rail are setting up a £4.1 million fund, which is meant to benefit passengers, in a bid to dodge a massie fine after the terrible planning of upgrades. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) have previously said that they might hit NR with a fine of £2 million, after the nonsense that went on at London Bridge station.
The ORR found that Network Rail had "failed to engage adequately" with train operators over what could happen to passengers if they ploughed on with work. Of course, these improvement to the network meant that Southern and Govia Thameslink Railway missed a host of punctuality targets, accounting for a third of delays and almost half the cancelled and significantly-delayed services in England and Wales.
However, to sidestep the fine, the ORR has accepted an offer from NR if they create a fund for passengers on Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express services. What does this fund actually do? Well, it should mean extra staff at their stations. There'll also be improvements to information displays, and new track workers.
Of course, if they were making these improvements as it was, which caused all this mess in the first place, Network Rail have brokered themselves a sweet little deal.
NR managing director Phil Hufton said: "Passengers expect and deserve a high standard of service, and we accept that we fell short for those travelling on Southern and Thameslink services last year. Since then we have invested £11 million to improve the railway around London Bridge and elsewhere in the region, and performance has increased as a result."
"This extra £4 million will continue the improvements we have already made and it is good news for passengers that the ORR has recognised this as a positive and practical alternative to a fine."
ORR chief executive Richard Price said: "We welcome Network Rail's commitment to improve passenger services. The new fund will enhance the service for passengers affected by this poor performance."