Rail passengers facing 'unnecessary delays'

Network Rail sign Poor drainage from tracks can cause mudslides and signal problems that delay trains

Related Stories

Train passengers are facing unnecessary delays because Network Rail is not doing its job properly, according to a critical report from the regulator.

The Office of Rail Regulation said the infrastructure company was slipping behind on maintenance and had not done enough to prepare for bad weather.

It comes as commuters face more above-inflation fare rises in the new year.

Network Rail said train performance was still at historically high levels but accepted it could improve.

Punctuality targets

Rail Minister Norman Baker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that while Network Rail was "delivering upgrades and new infrastructure well", it had taken its "eye off the ball" when it comes to day-to-day maintenance of the network

Mr Baker discussed the report when he met Network Rail's boss on Wednesday and company representatives on Thursday.

Network Rail is in charge of the transport system's infrastructure including tracks and signals.

Drainage is a major issue on the railways because heavy rain can cause havoc, triggering mudslides and signal problems that delay trains.

The report from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said Network Rail was not doing enough to drain water away from tracks, which would help more services run on time.

The rail regulator also talked about a backlog of maintenance.

The ORR claimed the company did not know enough about the condition of its own track, bridges and signals.

As a result key punctuality targets were being missed, it said, which could soon land Network Rail with a multi-million pound fine.

ORR chief executive Richard Price said the company must deal with these problems as a matter of urgency.

'Investing heavily'

"Network Rail has been entrusted with large amounts of public and passengers' money which, if invested well, should deliver the levels of efficiency and punctuality it promised to deliver," he said.

"However, the company is falling short of expectations at the moment. It is facing many problems of its own making having failed to deliver plans to renew Britain's rail network, with delayed works now affecting performance.

"The company must urgently catch up and address the problems which are causing disruption to passengers and target its work as efficiently as possible."

The report examined what Network Rail delivered from the money it spent, as passengers face fare increases of about 4.1% in the coming months.

Mr Baker said he raised his concerns with Network Rail chief executive Sir David Higgins when they met earlier this week.

The minister said: "I am, as I think the rest of the travelling public will be, dismayed to learn that Network Rail is still failing to tackle deterioration in the punctuality and reliability of the network - a matter I have regularly raised with them.

"Fare payers and tax payers are investing heavily in the future of the railways and they need to have the confidence that Network Rail is maximising the impact every pound has."

Mr Baker later told the Today programme that "because you've got twice the number of passengers over the last 15 years on the same network, inevitably that's putting enormous pressure on Network Rail."

He said it is "one of the reasons" infrastructure projects like HS2 are needed.

Last week it was announced that former oil executive Mark Carne would replace Sir David at Network Rail when he steps down next year.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    Why hasn't that commented been deleted at 22:50 - it's outrageous.

    Isn't ATOS that duffo outfit that's making a pig's ear of the forcing unfit people to work programme - isn't their fitness to work test impossible to fail - is that why they've waived the need for schizophrenics to do the test?

  • rate this

    Comment number 422.

    419 paulmerhaba
    now i understand why one of the best & informative websites is now second class,that & Chris Patton

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    I occasionally use platform 6 at London Bridge. Just by the stairs there are 3 or 4 Pandrol rail clips missing from a couple of chairs near to the platform. I've been photographing them for months every time I pass by. I'm wondering if Network Rail even walks the permanent way these days. I don't think they care about London Bridge Station's - one train every couple of minutes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    reasons why ,government is notorious for not paying,particularly when they want to make there books look a lot better than they really are.
    And it always seems to look like the poor worker is work shy,when in reality if it wasn't for one of the best workforces in the world,we would be made the laughing stock of the world

  • Comment number 419.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    Many moons ago i had a account friend who worked for a big company who was told to sit on a very large check,the company went bust waiting
    where i worked we had to close down a 24/7 process because even though a raw material had landed from Rotterdam,the accounts would not clear the check costing thousands
    It is very easy for money men to disrupt work,fail to have cranes in place & many more

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    It seems that many people just assume that it's good to have as many nationalised services as possible, but why?
    Time to put the pointy hat on Bubba and stand in the corner.

    The correct question is....why isn't the theory that the private sector will be more efficient than the public sector borne out in the light of experience..
    Over to you Bubba, G4S A4e Serco Capita ATOS utilities

  • Comment number 416.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    403. Bob Roberts
    Nationalise the track, the stations and the signals. Open up the lines via open access sale of track slots. Train companies own trains and pay drivers. All else owned by a nationalised Network Rail.
    Bubba why should tax payers subsidise private companies "profits"? Or were you thinking of a model like Germany's, based on stakeholder needs?

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    You could even get your mother to read you a lovley little fairy story all about how rich your going to be if you invest in british rail and how on time your going to be every morning and then finally when you wake up in th real world you find that youve lost your job because dear old darling british rail had a few delays, cancelled & you were fired Aaaah what a lovley ending GEE Thanks MUM !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    Makes you wonder if they think we all go to bed and dream these wonderfulll stories with Alice in wonderland and Never neverland with walt disney and micky mouse in the background The whole point is there is an internet system why use transport at all if you can do all of this plus bussiness without any expenses in travel just by using a laptop , mobile phone I dont know you tell me !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    Of course privatisation is a scam, rail, banks, now the postal service etc all bailed out by us alongside continuing profit making for them! The Brits have become proper stupid doormats and put up with anything and everything. I despair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    Privatization was done to pass the expense of an ever failing public transport system onto the public ,make them pay for this whilst convincing the public or shall we say deceiving the public into thinking that by investing their money into British rail just how much they stood to make Sorry ,” That should have been lose “ Look at rail tracks historyhistory to find all of this out Yes ha ha ha

  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    Train chaps on min wedge, to sort new routes, line path, build new stations. Build our own track, give our boys something to do before they are all arrested for vagrancy or being terror suspects. Same trains, more track, more places reached. Small country, don't need over the top train, just regular and punctual. 2.6 mill unemployed. Army of little workers there, 2 yr finish, chaps in work ect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    And yet they keep increasing fares! In the whole of the World, the UK is the only Country where fares have increased above the rate of inflation and at 400%.
    And to think that it still subsidised with my taxes.
    What would be the true cost for tickets with no subsidy I wonder ?
    No one subsidises my travel
    Next round of inceased road tax goes up to £490 + 70% tax on fuel

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    Yesterday it was how fantastic the HS rail link will be ,how many thousands of jobs its going to bring to the country except the manufacture of the carriages which will be done in Europe Today they telling us how many delays passengers are facing and the poor state of British rail and how wonderful they are and how they can be trusted with public money Tomorrow we’ll expose their bonuses

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    Sweden split track and trains. It's not as if bus companies own roads, or airlines own airports, is it? If that was the case, it would be a (more efficient than the current system, admittedly) monopoly with passengers told to use it as it is, with no alternatives.
    People hate privatisation because of the current system, which was, by the Treasury's own admission, about maximising revenue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    Why does the UK manage to make a hash of running railways? We may of invented them but we seem to have completely lost the plot when it comes to managing them. What makes it worse is that many countries in europe manage railways far better than the UK but we are so full of our selves we are not prepared to learn. How the UK can ignore the way the swiss run railways is stupid. Head in the sand UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    The real scandal is not the delays.It is no one has any choice.
    No one can choose which Rail Company to use.Therefore no competition.
    People have only two choices..
    Pay the fare.
    Or do not travel by rail.
    Never used to be like that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    Blaming the weather is not on.
    Surely the rail network has been engineered to run under all weather conditions?
    If not then who’s to blame?
    Designers, contractors or lack of investment?
    No such thing as bad weather, only constantly changing conditions within known range and expected changes due to climate change.
    No excuses FIX IT.


Page 2 of 23


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.