by Keri Allan
01 Jun 2021
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.
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.
“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.”
Coventry Very Light Rail has completed construction on a new test site for its unique track system at Coventry City Council’s Whitley Depot.
The ORR has given authorisation for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to operate its Class 717 fleet with Level 2 ETCS digital signalling.
Rail industry leaders were brought together at Accelerate Rail to discuss the nation’s transition to Great British Railways.
UK: The government has announced that Derby, one of the six shortlisted locations, will be the headquarters for Great British Railways.
DB Cargo UK has collaborated with Group Technical Support and Toton TMD to test the impact of using HVO to power locomotives.
The Department for Transport has extended Avanti West Coast's contract for 6 months following the operator's improved performance.
Greater Manchester has announced a new devolution deal with the UK government to grant it more influence over regional rail services.
Train operator, Avanti West Coast has launched a low-cost Superfare 'standby' ticket for flexible travellers.
Over 40bn GBP will be invested in the UK's transport network over the next two years, with a focus on delivering the first phase of HS2.
The UK government is working with Network Rail and Northern Rail to restore regular train services to the Northumberland Line from 2024.
Research from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) reveals significant potential to electrify UK rail freight operations.
Transport for London (TfL) has appointed Morgan Sindall Infrastructure as the main delivery partner to enlarge the DLR's Beckton Depot.
The two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) digging HS2’s longest tunnels has passed Amersham shaft on their 10 mile drive under the Chilterns.
TfWM and the WMRE have announced plans to explore the feasibility for five new railway stations within the West Midlands.
Stadler has successfully delivered the first of 46 new Tyne and Wear Metro trains to Nexus' Gosforth Metro Depot in the North of England.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has visited the new ticket hall at Bank Underground station, which completes its 700 million GBP upgrade.
Network Rail has selected SNC-Lavalin Group to deliver signalling renewal projects across the south of England.
The East Coast Digital Programme has further progressed, thanks to new signalling in the Wood Green – New Barnet area of north London.
GWR is to buy several assets from Vivarail, securing the future of trials of fast-charge battery technology.
Engineers have begun work to alleviate a long-time bottleneck on the Hope Valley Railway line at Bamford as part of upgrade project.
HS2 has proposed changes to the construction design of its Manchester route following work with the UK Environment Agency.
Avanti West Coast has begun testing its new Hitachi fleet on the West Coast Main Line. The trains are due to enter service later this year.
Network Rail is refurbishing the Chepstow Viaduct bridge over the river Wye to ensure the longevity of the Severn Estuary railway line.
New plans have been put forward to improve access to the proposed HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail station at Manchester Airport.
The High Speed Rail Group and HS2 Ltd have both hit back at a report created by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust about HS2's environmental impact.
Network Rail has started work to upgrade Derby station’s platform one, with resurfacing work underway to improve the platform’s resilience.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper set out the government's key priorities for the railways in his George Bradshaw address on 7 February.
Network Rail and TfL have announced a new partnership that will see thousands of new homes and commercial properties built across London.
Birmingham City Council has granted planning permission approval for HS2's Washwood Heath Depot, north-east of Birmingham city centre.
The UK and Welsh governments are working on a 2.7m GBP study to explore options for new rail stations and services between England and Wales.
A feasibility project led by Porterbrook and Eminox to to help reduce NOx emissions in enclosed stations has delivered positive results.
Scotland's Transport Minister has opened Inverness Airport rail station, with passenger trains arriving and departing from 3 February.
The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and the University of Sheffield are developing an AI tool to predict low adhesion track conditions.
HS2's tunnel boring machines, Florence and Cecilia have passed the halfway point on their 10-mile journey excavating the Chiltern tunnels.
HS2 Ltd’s contractor, Align JV has installed the last of 292 concrete piles, forming the foundations for the UK’s longest railway bridge.
Network Rail has upgraded Banbury train depot to keep trains moving on the Chiltern main line during HS2 construction.
Work has begun on the expansion of the West Midlands Metro depot, which includes extended and updated workshop and maintenance facilities.
Network Rail is upgrading almost three miles of railway tracks to improve the reliability of trains running through Scarborough.
Progress is being made towards Network Rail’s goal to upgrade the UK railway’s ageing telecoms infrastructure.
The first five-metre-tall V-shaped pier for the Curzon No. 3 Viaduct into HS2's Curzon Street Station in Birmingham has been installed.
Varamis Rail has collaborated with Network Rail to launch a 'zero-carbon freight service' between Scotland and the Midlands.
New funding has been announced for Network Rail to deliver transformational rail projects in the South West of England.
Liverpool City Region’s new fleet of publicly-owned trains could enter service as soon as 23 January, the city mayor has announced.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has confirmed the first instalment of its 72 million GBP investment in Coventry Very Light Rail.
A total of 130 metres of double track has been installed along Lower Bull Street as part of the Birmingham Eastside Metro extension project.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) has signed a new 10-year locomotive leasing deal with rolling stock leasing company, Akiem.
EMR and the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre are developing a simulation tool to improve depot efficiency.
The West Coast mainline near Carstairs has been reopened for passenger services after emergency engineering works was completed.
Network Rail has completed a series of improvement works for the Transpennine Route Upgrade between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York.
A bridge that will carry direct rail services between Oxford and Cambridge has been positioned over the HS2 route near Calvert, Bucks.
Northern Rail has upgraded its TrainCare Centre in Hull to increase its maintenance and servicing capacity and improve service reliability.
HS2 has revealed designs for the Curzon 2 bridge: a 150-metre section of viaduct on the approach to Birmingham’s new Curzon Street Station.
Construction is now complete on the Metro Flow project in Tyne and Wear, enabling contractors to being testing and commissioning.
Midlands Connect has unveiled plans to deliver 1.5 billion GBP in infrastructure improvements to enhance east-west rail connections in the UK.
Network Rail has launched an audio guide to help blind and partially sighted people navigate their way around Bristol Temple Meads Station.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has approved the introduction of Grand Union Trains between London, Cardiff and South West Wales from 2024.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has visited the new trains currently undergoing testing for the Glasgow Subway in Scotland.
HS2’s tunnel boring machine (TBM) Dorothy has begun its second one-mile tunnel bore under Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) has invested 4.7 million GBP in a new maintenance depot in Peterborough alongside the UK's East Coast Mainline.
HS2 's Euston site construction team Mace Dragados Joint Venture is trialling a hydrogen fuel cell to power a fully electric JCB telehandler.
In his November column Jonn Elldge considers what the recent Budget means for the rail sector in terms of investment in projects such as HS2.
Transport for London (TfL) has launched a trial of a new bridging device, a ramp specifically designed for step-free stations.
The first of Avanti West Coast's new fleet of Hitachi bi-mode trains has begun dynamic testing at Network Rail’s RIDC.
Network Rail has announced that major improvement works are set to take place on the Bakerloo and London Overground lines.
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) is funding a series of projects to advance the future of Britain's rail network.
Porterbrook has announced that the first 25 new JNA-X Box Wagons have arrived in the UK and are now on lease with GB Railfreight (GBRf).
Transport for Wales has installed the first electrical lines on the Core Valley Lines to power the new South Wales Metro.
CAF's LeadMind platform is improving services on the Serco Caledonian Mk5 Sleeper fleet by providing real-time remote monitoring alerts.
Network Rail has installed the first electric wires between Manchester and Stalybridge as part of the Transpennine Route Upgrade.
The latest European Train Control System (ETCS) is being fitted to a DB Cargo UK freight locomotive for the East Coast Digital Programme.
Northern has completed its first ‘Intelligent Train,’ installing technology such as LIDAR horizon scanning cameras on a Class 150 unit.
Network Rail has commenced work on the next phase of electrification along the Midland Main Line between London and Wigston, Leicestershire.
A second 140 metre long, 2,050 tonnes tunnel boring machine (TBM) has begun its journey across London for HS2.
The GCRE has officially acquired the former Nant Helen opencast site and Onllwyn Washery in South Wales, paving the way for construction.
The West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) has revised its strategy on how to grow and develop the region’s rail network over the next 30 years.
HS2’s workforce has almost hit the 30,000 mark. This is down to the recruitment of 2,300 new employees in the last three months.
Network Rail has been testing whether laser beams and superheated plasma jets could be effective at clearing leaves off railway lines.
Lumo has attracted one million passengers and seen rail overtake air travel as the preferred mode of transport between Edinburgh and London.
Govia Thameslink Railway has sent its first Class 387/1 Great Northern train for ETCS upgrading as part of the East Coast Digital Programme.
Bond Street Elizabeth line station opened today, 24 October, with the first Elizabeth line service arriving at the station at 5.47am.
South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority will take over control of Supertram services, infrastructure and finances from March 2024.
HS2’s main works contractor, EKFB, has started working on two of the project’s longest cuttings in Buckingham and Oxfordshire.
hyperTunnel has revealed the world’s first underground structure constructed entirely by robots as part of a project for Network Rail.
Bristol Temple Meads train station is to become a testbed for new passenger tech having been named the UK’s first ‘Station Innovation Zone’.
Alstom has signed a new services contract with UK rail franchise Govia Thameslink Railway valued at £256 million.
West Midlands Railway's (WMR) new Class 196 train fleet has commenced passenger services on the Shrewsbury Line.
Network Rail is using 21st century technology to fix the Merseyrail underground tunnel in Liverpool without disrupting passenger services.
Due to Avanti West Coast's ongoing problems, Jonn Elledge travels from London to Liverpool via the TPE to see what trains are like up north.
Eversholt Rail, Southeastern and Hitachi Rail are upgrading the Class 395 high-speed Javelin trains that operate between London and Kent.
A new interchange route between Bank station’s Northern line concourse and DLR concourse and platforms has been opened.
Metrolink has announced that all 27 of its new trams have now been delivered in Greater Manchester as part of a 72 million GBP investment.
Varamis Rail has signed an agreement to lease a Class 321 Swift Express freight train from Eversholt Rail.
Network Rail has announced that its 4.5 million GBP project to upgrade the tracks at Newcastle Central Station is now complete.
The DfT and FirstGroup have agreed on a short-term contract extension for Avanti West Coast, which will last until the end of March 2023.
HS2 has launched the first of six tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will dig more than 26 miles of tunnels under London.
HS2 Ltd has opened applications for tech start-ups and SMEs to join the fifth group of its Innovation Accelerator programme.
Transport for London (TfL) has announced that the Bond Street Elizabeth line station will open on 24 October.
Stadler presented its IPEMU - independently powered EMU - at InnoTrans today in the presence of Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.
Stadler formally presented its FLIRT tri-mode and CITYLINK tram-train for Transport for Wales at InnoTrans today.
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