Network Rail faces fine over late trains

22 February 2013

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

Network Rail could be fined up to £55 million if it fails to improve the punctuality of trains in the next two years.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) will punish the organization if it does not improve the resilience and reliability of its service.

The ORR's latest report showed Network Rail's performance deteriorated in recent months, partly due to the bad weather conditions that have affected much of the UK.

Overall punctuality on long-distance services in England and Wales was 88.3 per cent and 91.4 per cent for London and the south-east, which the ORR described as "well short" of its 92 per cent target.

Passengers also suffered delays caused by substantial over-runs of engineering works during the Christmas period. The ORR claimed basic operational planning mistakes often contributed to these problems.

However, flood recovery responses on some parts of the network did help to ease passenger disruption.

Network Rail's performance was much better in Scotland, where it nearly achieved the 92 per cent punctuality target, despite the impact of bad weather.

The ORR has warned the organization that if it fails to reach its goals in 2013-14, it will face a severe financial penalty.

It will be issued a fine of £1.5 million for every percentage point it drops below the 92 per cent punctuality target. This means if Network Rail repeats it current levels of performance, it will receive a fine in the region of £55 million.

Richard Price, ORR Chief Executive, said: "Passengers need to be able to rely on the railways to get them from ‘A to B’ throughout the whole year. However, Network Rail’s operational performance on parts of Britain’s rail network has been poor over recent months."

He said the ORR is determined to improve the resilience of Britain's railways and pointed to performance in Scotland as proof that targets can still be achieved in adverse weather conditions.

Mr Price said the regulatory body will now be assessing if Network Rail has "done all it can" to improve its services in London and the south-east.

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