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Mon May 27 2024

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Watchdog tells railways to improve preventive maintenance

31 Oct 13 Network Rail has been told by its watchdog to bring down the cost of running the network by 20%.

This is to be achieved by the use of preventive maintenance programmes – ‘predict and prevent’ rather than a reactive ‘find and fix’ approach – and by making the network more resilient to bad weather.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said that Network Rail could achieve £1.7bn savings.

The ORR today published its final determination for spending between April 2014 and March 2019 has protected Network Rail’s funding for maintaining the rail network at nearly £5bn.

In addition, projects totalling more than £7bn that do not yet have clear delivery plans or costs have been tentatively approved. ORR is giving Network Rail until March 2015 to work up efficient plans for these enhancements before finally approving the funds.

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.

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"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."

Having received the final determinations today, Network Rail has until 7 February 2014 to decide whether to formally accept the final determination or to seek an appeal through the Competition Commission.

Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said: “The next five years for the railway will prove to be a critical challenge. A challenge to continue to respond to rising passenger demand and our need to grow and expand the network while at the same time juggling the ever harder challenges of improving performance, reducing cost and delivering huge investment projects from which substantial social and economic benefits flow.

“The determination has to be right to help the company, and the railway as a whole, succeed and deliver what’s needed by passengers, freight users and the taxpayer. We must now look at the individual targets within the determination, as well as the package as a whole and welcome the opportunity provided by the ORR to use the coming months to seek clarification and work through the detail.”


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