READERS of The Yorkshire Post will know only too well that recent train performance across the region and indeed, throughout the country, has not been good enough.
Network Rail knows that and recognises the part we’ve played in poor performance.
Passengers expect, and deserve, better.
Andrew Haines, my new chief executive, and I also realise passengers get frustrated when their journeys over weekends and bank holidays are affected by engineering works and line closures.
We do all we can to minimise disruption caused by our planned work.
We carry out these huge schemes over Christmas and New Year as the railway is 50 per cent quieter than usual during the festive period.
Nonetheless, it will be business as usual on the vast majority of the rail network over the holidays, but some routes will be heavily affected and we ask customers on those routes to plan their journeys in advance.
The railway is vital to Britain’s economic growth; creating jobs and building more housing.
The British railway is a success – doubling the number of passengers in 20 years.
Our challenge is to keep capacity growing at the same and make the railway more reliable.
Maintenance, renewals and enhancements are necessary to maintain and improve our railway, first built in the Victorian era, and one that just wasn’t designed to carry 4.7 million passengers every day.
This Christmas, a 25,000-strong workforce will deliver more than 330 projects as part of a £148m investment across Britain.
Yorkshire will directly benefit from these projects.
Beginning on Christmas Eve, work will take place to move control of the signalling system from the Integrated Control Centre in York to the state of the art Rail Operating Centre.
This move will further create a centre of excellence and greater resilience when disruption occurs.
On the East Coast Main Line, work is taking place further south on the line between Fletton and Peterborough to renew the power supply to signals.
This will increase reliability and improve passenger journey times for all of those travelling along the route.
Network Rail is committed to putting the passenger first and reversing the decline in train punctuality that we have experienced in recent years.
The investment this Christmas is just a small part of a much bigger plan to do just that and to help improve the underlying reliability of the railway infrastructure – the bedrock on which our railway relies.
By working more closely with our industry partners, and ensuring passengers are at the heart of everything we do, we can go further by getting more of the basics right such as improving the speed and accuracy of our communications with passengers.
Christmas and bank holiday engineering work is a key part of that commitment, affording our engineers significantly more time than usual to make uninterrupted progress on vital projects that will help make rail services more reliable and more comfortable.
Sir Peter Hendy CBE is chair of Network Rail.