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Network Rail responds to regulator’s performance report for 2009-14

Network Rail has responded to the Office of Rail Regulation’s assessment of the company’s performance in the 2009-14 funding period. While this recognises successful delivery of a multi-billion pound investment programme to build a bigger better railway, safety improvements at level crossings and record numbers of passengers and freight moved by rail, it also highlighted missed punctuality targets.

Mark Carne, who joined as Network Rail chief executive in February, said: “This is a time of unprecedented growth and record levels of investment in Britain’s railways. As a result, today we have the safest, most improved passenger railway in Europe.

“We accept that we have fallen short of the regulatory targets for train punctuality and that this is, in part, down to our failure to reduce infrastructure faults quickly enough. At the same time, the sharp increase in passenger demand has led us to run more trains at peak times, even when we know this will lead to a more congested railway and that punctuality may suffer.

“Passengers do want trains to run on time, but for many of them the more pressing priority is increased services with less crowding. The trade-off between congestion and punctuality is something we face every day.

“The industry is now benefitting from significant funding but there remain challenges following many decades of underinvestment. Getting train reliability back on track is a key priority for us over the next three years in particular and we have good plans to improve the underlying reliability of our assets alongside significant investment to increase capacity and relieve congestion.

“I am confident that by the end of this control period we will meet and indeed exceed the regulatory performance targets.”

Commenting on proposed improvements to mobile broadband internet access on the rail network, Mark Carne said: “The increasing availability of mobile broadband on trains will mean rail travel is an even more attractive option for many people as they can make better productive use of their journey time.

“We welcome the announcement today of the additional funds to roll this out across the network more quickly.”

 

  • The ORR set a punctuality target for the end of the 2009-14 funding period of 92.5%, which was to be achieved by 31 March 2014. The punctuality level achieved was 90.0%
  • One million more trains and half a billion more people are using our railways that just a decade ago, with passenger journeys having doubled since 1995
  • Despite missing the regulatory targets, train punctuality is still at good levels, both by historical and European standards. When Network Rail took over responsibility for Britain’s railways in 2002, punctuality was 79.2% on a network carrying 500m fewer passengers and 1m fewer trains than currently
  • Great Britain also has officially both the most improved, and the safest railway in Europe
  • Network Rail has also agreed to set-aside an extra £25m of investment for special weather resilience projects in the south east of England, recognising the particular impact this sector has suffered from weather events in the past few years which was a major contributor to missing punctuality targets
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