Network Rail is being investigated for poor performance in the North West and Central region, it has been confirmed.
The regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has published an update on Network Rail’s impact on passenger train service performance, which has revealed that the organisation’s contribution to delays in the North West and Central region “remains a concern.”
At a national level, Network Rail’s contribution to passenger train delay minutes was 58%, which is down by 1.1 percentage points compared with the previous year.
But in the North West and Central region in England, performance deteriorated in 2018 and in 2019, it failed to recover substantially.
Northern and TransPennine Express operate in the region, and passengers on these services have already experienced delays and cancellations, leading to calls for the former’s franchise to be removed – steps that the Transport Secretary says he is taking.
As a result of deterioration in performance in this area, the ORR is investigating the detail of Network Rail’s recovery plan and monitoring its impact to test if the operator of the country’s railway is doing all it reasonably can to improve passenger services.
The ORR’s Chief Executive, John Larkinson, explained: “The top priority for passengers is that their train arrives on time and that isn’t happening consistently enough across the country.
“ORR is responsible for looking at how Network Rail contributes to train delays and while there are areas of very good performance such as in Wales and Western region, Network Rail’s performance in North West and Central region is not good enough.
“This is why we are putting the company on a warning to make sure its improvement plans deliver for passengers.”
As Mr Larkinson explained, Network Rail has delivered in Wales and Western region, with performance at its highest level for the last five years, while train delay minutes fell by 24% in Scotland too.
The ORR want Network Rail to build on this and learn lessons to improve in North West and Central.