ORR investigates NR over Wales & Western performance

A view of the approaches to Cardiff Central station. Courtesy ORR

The Office of Rail and Road is investigating poor train punctuality and reliability on Network Rail’s Wales & Western Region, with a focus on the infrastructure manager’s role.

Recent concerns include three broken rails on the region which occurred in quick succession. The ORR’s probe will assess whether NR is complying with its licence obligations in the region, and whether it is doing everything reasonably practicable to deliver train service performance. The regulator will review its performance improvement plan, examine whether assets are being managed appropriately and look at the impact of changes to the rail network on train performance.

It will determine whether there is more that NR could be doing to boost performance and will then decide on appropriate measures, which could include enforcement action.

A roundtable of parties who directly contribute to train performance in the region – primarily passenger and freight operators plus NR and other bodies, in which the ORR says it will work to ensure a ‘joined up approach’ to identifying the measures needed to improve performance.

The ORR’s Director of Performance and Planning, Feras Alshaker, said at the launch of the investigation on 29 November: ‘While Network Rail has begun making good progress in stabilising performance elsewhere on the network, performance in the Wales & Western region has continued to deteriorate, meaning poor reliability and punctuality for passengers and freight.

‘Our investigation will take a detailed look at the root causes of the region’s performance issues and will consider wider contributing factors. As part of our work, we will convene a roundtable with key players in the region to support Network Rail in taking pragmatic and effective action to improve performance for all the region’s rail users.’