NR seeks GWML performance improvements

Better performance sought: GWR Nos 387146/150 arrive at Paddington with the 09.51 from Cardiff on 26 May 2022. Philip Sherratt

Network Rail is to spend almost £140 million upgrading the eastern section of the Great Western main line in a bid to resolve reliability issues which have caused extensive delays in recent months.

In its Thames Valley Performance Plan, it says six core factors – points, axle counters, power supplies, track, trespass and network management (including signaller and timetable delays) – are responsible for almost two-thirds of delays in the Thames valley.

It highlights that the opening of the Elizabeth Line has increased the number of trains running by 17% since 2019, with overnight access for maintenance on the section east of Reading limited to around 2½ hours per day. 
Under its plan, NR will accelerate targeted interventions to improve performance. Nineteen track sites have been identified, and lines one and two at Portobello have already been renewed.

A team of 20 internal and external experts has been formed to drive performance improvements. In addition to delivering infrastructure upgrades, they will review NR’s organisation, people capability and processes. A process improvement approach will review individual incidents to better understand root causes, learn lessons and implement corrective actions, while NR also says it will better understand when each piece of infrastructure needs replacing and implement plans and access to deliver renewals.

It says it is confident changes planned in the next six months ‘will start to reduce disruption immediately’, adding that over the next year it will seek to address key causes of disruption and move towards sustaining and renewing the network. 

Funding is largely derived from existing Control Period 7 budgets, with £104 million set aside from that. NR also says no additional taxpayer funding is being sought.