Britain’s railways between 2014 and 2019 – ORR’s final determination

31 October 2013  •  Author: Office of Rail Regulation

Passengers are at the heart of final plans for Britain’s railways over the next five years, which includes funding to close around 500 high-risk level crossings and tougher targets to reduce severe disruption on long distance services, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) announced today.

The regulator confirmed that Network Rail can achieve £1.7bn savings, and will be funded to deliver nine out of ten trains on time on regional, London and South East and Scottish routes, and improved reliability for long distance passenger services. It will need to improve standards of infrastructure management, network resilience, and safety for passengers and railway workers. The company will also deliver a programme of enhancements to the rail network worth more than £12bn, involving train operators, stakeholders and passengers in how improvements are designed and delivered. Network Rail will start delivering the plan from April 2014.

ORR has consulted extensively with members of the public, consumer groups, industry, and Network Rail in finalising governments’ multi-billion pound plan for Britain’s railways between 2014 and 2019. The plan is designed to deliver better performance, more capacity, and greater efficiencies. Stretching, but deliverable, targets and new incentives will get the industry working closer together for the communities they serve – supported by a strong focus on areas which need improving. ORR has only revised its draft determination, published in June 2013, where new and compelling evidence has been provided.

  • Network Rail will receive more than £21bn over the next five years to fund the day-to-day running of the rail network. ORR will require the company to bring down the cost of running the network by around 20%, bringing Britain’s railway up to the standards of the most efficient in Europe. Savings will be achieved through the implementation of new technologies, better management of the railways, and more efficient ways of working. The regulator has protected Network Rail’s funding for maintaining the rail network at nearly £5bn.
  • Savings will not come at the expense of safety. There will be increased dedicated funding of £109m to close around 500 level crossings and improve safety at hundreds more of the highest risk crossings in Britain. There will be around £250m to help improve safety of track workers, to be invested in new equipment and safer working practices. ORR has also approved an extra £571m to upgrade structures such as bridges and tunnels.
  • Network Rail will focus on delivering what matters for passengers – reliable services across the network and fewer bad days. Nine out of 10 trains must run on time for all regional, London and South East, and Scottish routes. Passenger Focus’ research has shown that passengers on long distance services want fewer really bad days when services are cancelled or severely delayed. There will now also be a new regulated target for long distance services. By 2019, fewer than three in 100 trains on the West Coast Main Line and around four in 100 trains on the East Coast Main Line should be hit by severe disruption (delayed by more than 30 minutes/ cancelled).
  • ORR has approved more than £12bn worth of enhancements to Britain’s rail network to ease congestion and improve performance on the railways. Within this, projects totalling more than £7bn do not yet have clear delivery plans or costs. ORR is giving Network Rail until March 2015 to work up efficient plans for these enhancements before approving the funds. This ensures that our determination is both deliverable and makes best use of public money. The regulator is also proposing that rail users and train operators are given a bigger role to shape the specification and delivery of approved enhancements. This will put passengers at the heart of decisions on how the railway is improved.

ORR will set new regulatory targets for Network Rail’s asset management in key areas where performance needs to improve, particularly focusing on how it manages, maintains and renews the rail network. Better asset management will allow the company to move from a ‘find and fix’ approach to maintenance to a ‘predict and prevent’ way of working, helping to boost capacity and improve performance on the network. The regulator will also put additional checks in place to monitor the company’s progress on making the network more resilient to bad weather and climate change. Getting timely and accurate information on Network Rail’s progress will help ORR track its performance and intervene at an early stage to highlight any emerging problems early on for customers.

ORR Chief Executive Richard Price said:

“Network Rail has made great strides in improving safety, performance and efficiency on Britain’s railways. Supported by significant levels of funding from governments, working more closely with the rest of the industry, and learning important lessons from the past, the company is capable of delivering more for customers and taxpayers.

“This plan for Britain’s railways between 2014 and 2019 – informed by the public, consumer groups, governments and the industry – requires a safer, higher performing and more efficient railway. More level crossings will be upgraded or closed; passengers will enjoy better punctuality and suffer fewer cancellations; customers should have a say in shaping billions of pounds of new investment on the network; and the company will continue to bring down the day-to-day costs of running the railways. With increased levels of funding in vital areas such as safety and closer monitoring from the regulator, we expect Network Rail to build on past successes and beat the challenges we have set.”

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