A lack of updated contingency plans has been given as a reason for Network Rail’s poor performance on South Western Railway, according to an investigation from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
Responsible for the economic safety and regulation of Britain’s railways as well as the monitoring of Highways England, the ORR has conducted a number of reviews to ensure that passengers across the whole transport network get the best service.
In its report regarding Network Rail’s delivery of performance to South Western Railway – which sought to establish whether or not there was a sustained commitment to drive performance improvements – the ORR published a number of conclusions which call on Network Rail to improve planning, procedures and technology.
Not only are these issues crucial for businesses using the services in those areas of the country, but delays and disruption also have knock-on effects to the economy and over the past year, the number of South Western Railway trains arriving on time.
The call for improvements to planning and procedures has been made because in 2017-18, 84.3% of trains arrived on time – down from 90.5% in 2016-17, with 68% of disruption caused by Network Rail.
It is why the ORR reviewed Network Rail’s delivery to South Western Railway and as such, it was found that it takes longer for the network to get back to normal service if problems occur.
The reasons include the fact contingency plans haven’t been updated for seven years, which are crucial in providing options for action in case of disruption; elsewhere, it was found that ‘lessons learned’ reviews don’t always happen and when they did, limited evidence is available to show how these lessons were put into practice.
Although Graham Richards, of ORR’s Railway Planning and Performance admitted the performance issues aren’t just down to Network Rail, he said: “When things go wrong, it is essential that Network Rail works efficiently to get back to normal service as quickly as possible.
“Our investigation found that Network Rail has not updated its processes to keep pace with the changes on the route. We will be looking closely to ensure it addresses our findings.”