12th June 2015
The rail regulator is to investigate Network Rail which it has accused of being unreliable.
According to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) train services run by Southern, Thameslink, and ScotRail have all missed targets for punctuality. Network Rail maintains the rail system used by the services and the ORR found 89.6% of trains were on time last year which is below the 92.5% target.
Since 2005 the number of rail passenger journeys has increased 59.1% and freight has increased 9.1%. Passengers have had to put up with increasingly poor service; those using Thameslink has seen long-term disruption at London Bridge and Southern lines have been disrupted by signalling problems.
Network Rail said the number of passengers has doubled in the past two decades since the railways were privatised, and last year 1.65 billion journeys were taken.
Network Rail has put aside £77 million for fines related to missing punctuality targets, of which £24 million has been ‘released’. In its latest results it noted a £246 million funding cut form the ORR which hit pre-tax profit – profits were down 51% to £506 million.
Network Rail said there were ‘clearly opportunities to improve following decades of under-investment in the rail network’ and that it operated the safest passenger network in Europe.
‘The increase in passengers means that more people are getting to their destination on time than ever before,’ said Network Rail.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: ‘I expect the regulator to hold Network Rail to account, performance must and should improve.
‘the industry has to work together to address these failings and deliver for passengers and the economy: that needs to start now.’