Regulator Says Network Rail Performance in NW&C Region Is Improving

A year on from its investigation into Network Rail’s impact on poor train performance in the North West and Central (NW&C) region, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has announced that progress has been made.

It noted, however, that in the coming months an extended focus is required to ensure improvements are fully delivered.

Manchester Piccadilly Station
Manchester Piccadilly Station

In May 2020, the ORR found Network Rail had identified the main causes of poor performance and had started to develop remedial action plans but lacked delivery timescales. The regulator responded with 25 recommendations to strengthen improvement plans across the region.

Network Rail accepted these recommendations and overall the NW&C region has made good progress against the majority of these in difficult circumstances. The regulator is satisfied that 19 of the recommendations have been addressed and these activities, and their benefits, are now being monitored.

It has concerns however, on the slow progress of six recommendations. These primarily relate to asset management and operations.

It has seen good progress with electrification works and understanding unexplained failures on the network, but the region still needs to improve the capabilities of staff in making timely interventions to issues such as track faults or drainage problems, further develop its weather resilience and climate change plan, and review how it manages trackside vegetation.

Graham Richards, ORR Director, Planning and Performance, said:

“We recognise that the pandemic and Putting Passengers First reorganisation has affected the pace of progress. While good progress has been made on the majority of our recommendations, we now expect a final push on addressing those that remain.

“We will keep our enhanced monitoring in place for the time being as we continue to hold the NW&C region to account for delivering these improvements.”

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