The Office of Rail and Road has written to Network Rail raising concerns about a backlog in examining the condition of its civil engineering assets such as bridges, tunnels and culverts.
It says it has been closely monitoring progress since 2021 when it first raised the issue, but that ‘despite some pockets of good practice, overall there has been limited progress and some regions have seen the backlog increase’.
The regulator also expresses concern that NR may not be able to comply with its own new standard for structure examinations which is intended by September 2023. NR has agreed to provide the ORR with plans by 30 June 2023 with ‘clear milestones’ to achieve compliance. The ORR will assess these ahead of final plans being produced by the end of August 2023.
ORR Chief Executive John Larkinson said: ‘There are over 70,000 structures on the rail network, so we understand the scale of the job of inspecting these assets. Equally, we know this requires clear, robust and systematic examination plans but previous attempts to get on top of the backlog of work have failed. Network Rail has accepted the need to do better and it must now deliver against the agreed workplan to clear the backlog.’