NETWORK RAIL has “failed to deliver” on major commuter and long-distance route punctuality, with many thousands more late trains than there should have been, rail regulators said.
Committed to deliver average punctuality levels of 92 per cent on long-distance passenger services in 2013/14, Network Rail “fell significantly short” with a figure of 86.9 per cent, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said.
As a result, under an order made by ORR in 2012, Network Rail is having to return £53.1m to the Treasury in what is effectively a fine.
On long-distance performance in the five years ending March 2014, the ORR said Network Rail “did not deliver all of its plans to improve performance and, particularly in the early years of the (five-year) funding period, had insufficient knowledge of the condition of its key assets”.
ORR chief executive Richard Price said: “Punctuality is important to passengers. Network Rail committed to improve train punctuality between 2009 and 2014, and was funded to do so. But it did not deliver its commitments for passengers who travel on long-distance and London and south east England passenger services.
“Network Rail fell significantly short of punctuality for long-distance services, so it is right that money is returned to funders (the Treasury). The company will be undertaking extensive maintenance and renewal work to improve punctuality on long-distance services between 2014 and 2019. “