Network Rail warned over delays, poor maintenance

The UK rail regulator has wanred Network Rail, the company responsible for maintaining the country’s track infrastructure, for failing to maintain the rail track infrastructure causing significant delays and inconvenience to passengers.

‘The company is falling short of expectations at the moment,’ said Richard Price, the chief executive of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). ‘It is facing many problems of its own making, having failed to deliver plans to renew Britain’s rail network, with delayed works now affecting performance,’ he added.

According to a report by The Telegraph, the ORR has also warned the rail company that it will be fined significantly if it does not improve upon its performance. The rail regulator has accused the company of negligence and failing to renew tracks, causing a seven per cent rise in incidents leading to delays and cancellations.

Rail minister Norman Baker reportedly said that he was ‘dismayed’ by Network Rail’s performance. ‘Fare payers and tax payers are investing heavily in the future of the railways and they need to have the confidence that Network Rail is maximising the impact every pound has,’ Baker said, adding that he will insist an improvement when he meets Sir David Higgins, the chief executive of Network Rail.

David Sidebottom, the director of the consumer regulator, Passenger Focus, commented: ‘Passengers are now the main funders of the railway, so it is even more crucial they can expect a reliable service. Network Rail needs to work hard to improve its performance and to rebuild trust within the industry and with the public.’

A total of 25,852 long distance trains were either more than half an hour late or cancelled completely in the first quarter of this year, compared with 21,960 last year. The percentage of trains which arrived on time also fell between April and July this year, compared with the same period 12 months ago.

‘Although we have been unable to reach these tough targets, today half a million more trains arrive at their destination on time compared with five years ago, carrying tens of millions more passengers. Train performance is still, by historical standards, at a high level – last year was the third best year ever recorded – but we know we can do better, especially on our long-distance routes,’ Network Rail said.