Network Rail falls short of punctuality targets

Marion Dakers
DISAPPOINTING train delays, a poor performance for freight customers, irate operators – but at least there are fewer rail replacement buses, said the UK rail watchdog yesterday.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said it was “very disappointed” by Network Rail’s customer service in the last year, as the authority in charge of Britain’s train network fell short of many punctuality goals.

More than a third of train operators were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with Network Rail, up five percentage points, while the number of customers “satisfied” or “very satisfied” fell by the same amount to 43 per cent.

The watchdog, which last month threatened Network Rail with a record £24m fine if its performance fails to improve, complained in its quarterly report that the group needs to be more proactive.

While Network Rail met targets for cancellations on regional and long distance routes, it missed goals for London and the south east, where 2.4 per cent of journeys were cancelled or had significant delays.

Network Rail missed its targets for freight punctuality by some 11 per cent, but the efforts to improve mean the ORR won’t impose a fine.

On the bright side, the rail authority has ensured that engineering work has disrupted fewer journeys than expected, and has scaled back the use of rail replacement buses by changing routes when tracks are closed.