The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has confirmed today it will launch an independent inquiry into the significant train timetable headaches that have been causing disruption for passengers since the end of May.
It will publish an interim report assessing factors that contributed to the failure and making recommendations for future big changes, in September.
The introduction of a new timetable across the rail network on 20 May was meant to help deliver more regular and reliable journeys. A few teething problems were expected, but passengers have faced cancellations, sudden service changes and other disruption, particularly on Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
On 4 June, transport secretary Chris Grayling asked the ORR to set up an inquiry headed by Professor Stephen Glaister into the failed introduction of the new schedules.
Today, the ORR said the inquiry will identify what led to the failure to produce and introduce a satisfactory operational timetable, reach conclusions about managing risks created by major network changes, and make recommendations to the industry and government before any future major network changes.
Professor Glaister said:
A considerable amount of time was spent planning these changes so it is disappointing that the industry could not make the new timetable work. ORR does not set or approve the railway timetable; we will therefore look at this issue independently and dispassionately.
While I want the inquiry to proceed at pace it is important to be thorough and impartial. We will collect evidence from a range of organisations, including passenger representatives such as Transport Focus, and be supported by an expert panel of external advisers.
Last week, the shadow transport secretary questioned the decision to appoint the chairman of the ORR to conduct an inquiry into the major disruption caused by the recent timetable overhaul.
Andy McDonald said he believed there could be a potential conflict of interest in appointing Stephen Glaister to lead the inquiry, with the ORR Network Rail's regulator.
McDonald told City A.M: "Putting the chair of Network Rail’s regulator in charge of an inquiry into the failings of both Network Rail and train companies is a bit like asking someone to mark their own homework. This inquiry can have no credibility and it’s yet another example of dreadful judgement by transport secretary Chris Grayling."