Reliability Probe At Network Rail

Rail regulators have launched an investigation into Network Rail's performance after announcing the company was offering poor punctuality and reliability on some of the busiest commuter routes.

Network Rail (NR) reliability on routes such as Southern, Thameslink and Scotland was "below requirements'', the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) said.

The overall trains-on-time figure was 89.6% - nearly 3% lower than NR's target of 92.5%, the ORR said.

Thameslink passengers have recently had to contend with upheaval caused by long-term work at London Bridge, while those travelling with Southern have experienced track and signalling problems.

Last Christmas there was travel chaos in north London after NR festive-period engineering work at King's Cross and Paddington stations overran.

Publishing a report on NR's performance for 2014/15 , the ORR said NR had not met a number of its enhancements programme delivery targets, with some projects facing delays.

The company has also delivered far less work than it planned for the upkeep of the rail network.

ORR chief executive Richard Price said: "NR has made a slow start in delivering on its enhancements and performance targets for CP5 (the period from 2014/15 to 2018/19) and we have asked it to demonstrate how it plans to get back on schedule to deliver on its commitments to 2019.

"The company is also falling short of its own targets on completing renewals works for the upkeep of the rail network. While there is good performance on the East Coast main line and the freight sector, overall reliability on some routes such as the Southern, Thameslink and Scotland routes are below requirements.

"We are investigating NR's performance improvement plans and delivery of enhancements. This work will help identify the issues the company needs to address to improve train performance, increase capacity and deliver on its commitments to passengers.''

 The ORR said:

:: At the end of 2014/15 NR had missed 30 out of its 84 planned enhancement milestones with some projects facing delays or cost escalations;

:: NR track renewal is 7% behind plan, signalling renewals are 63% behind schedule, and overhead-line renewals are 77% behind target;

:: With NR failing to reach its punctuality figure, ORR has launched an investigation ``to determine whether the company has done all it can to improve performance and punctuality on the network'';

:: NR has implemented new plans and ORR's recommendations for engineering works to minimise impact on passengers following the Christmas overruns.

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