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Railhub Archive
1998-07-16 ORR-001
Office of the Rail Regulator


Network Management Statement: Railtrack to give further commitments

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Office of the Rail Regulator

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Office of the Rail Regulator

Network Management Statement: Railtrack to give further commitments

16 July 1998
source Office of the Rail Regulator
type Press release

note ORR/98/25

The Rail Regulator, John Swift QC and Gerald Corbett, Chief Executive, Railtrack PLC, announced today that Railtrack has given further commitments to improve network performance and track quality. Railtrack has also given commitments to complete studies of options to deal with network capacity problems and to strengthen its processes for meeting the needs of train operators and funders. These new commitments result from joint consideration of the outcome of the Review of Railtrack’s 1998 Network Management Statement (NMS) which was carried out by the Regulator, in consultation with train operators and funding bodies and with Railtrack.

The Regulator's consultation showed that train operators and funders believed that there was greater scope for further performance improvements than promised in the NMS. Although Railtrack reduced the delay it caused to passenger trains by 38% in 1996-97, improvement slowed to 1% in 1997-98. Railtrack is committed to further improvement and has agreed to commit to reduce delay it causes by 7.5% this year. In addition, it is continuing its analysis of train delay and will publish in January 1999 further challenging targets for improved performance for the two years up to April 2001. It will also work with train operators towards reducing delays for which operators themselves are responsible.

Train operators and funders expressed concern about current standards of track quality on the network. Railtrack has agreed to draw up a programme aimed at the elimination of poor quality track on the network by April 2001. It has also committed itself to achieving these specific and timetabled improvements in track quality without lowering quality elsewhere on the network.

On network capacity the NMS identified a number of bottlenecks on the network which are expected to present increasing capacity problems in the near future. Railtrack has now committed itself to complete evaluations of options to address these capacity problems by 30 November this year.

In terms of meeting the needs of train operators and funders the Regulator's review established that there was scope for significant improvement in the processes by which Railtrack establishes the reasonable requirements of train operators and funders in drawing up future plans for maintaining, renewing and developing the rail network. Railtrack recognises the importance of strengthening the consultation and planning processes leading to next year's NMS. It has committed to specific improved, and timetabled, arrangements for establishing the reasonable requirements of train operators and funders for the performance, capability and quality of the network. It has also agreed to improve the transparency of its procedures for initiating, evaluating and carrying out enhancement investment.

The Rail Regulator, John Swift QC, welcoming Railtrack's commitments, said: "My consultation with train operators, the Franchising Director and the Passenger Transport Executives identified the need for further improvements in these four key areas. I am pleased that Railtrack has responded constructively, recognising its accountability to operators and funders, and that it has given me these commitments to secure compliance with the requirements of its Network Licence."

Gerald Corbett, Chief Executive of Railtrack PLC, commenting today said : "Railtrack and the Rail Regulator both want to see improvements in train performance and track quality where it remains unsatisfactory and to encourage effective working relationships between Railtrack, train operators and funders. Railtrack recognises that, in order to meet the aspirations of its customers and industry partners, it needs to be a company that listens and responds. I am glad that we have been able to work with the Regulator in a constructive manner to reach agreement on these issues. Over the next six months we will be working with our customers and funders to refine our plans for next year's Network Management Statement".

The Rail Regulator will shortly be publishing the conclusions of his Review of the 1998 Network Management Statement and the full text of the commitments given to him by Railtrack.


1. Railtrack published the 1998 Network Management Statement on 25 March 1998, setting out its plans for the network, in accordance with Condition 7 of its Network Licence.

2. Condition 7 of Railtrack's Network Licence, as modified on 26 September 1997, obliges Railtrack to maintain, renew and develop the network to meet the reasonable requirements of train operators and funding bodies as to the quality and capability of the network, and to do so in accordance with best practice, and in a timely, economic and efficient manner. This obligation is subject to relevant circumstances, including Railtrack's ability to finance its activities.

3. Immediately following the publication of the 1998 Network Management Statement, the Regulator issued a press release indicating his concern at the relative lack of commitments in the Statement, and his intention to consult train operators and funding bodies about whether Railtrack had actively sought to identify their reasonable requirements, and reflect them in practical plans to meet those needs. To this end, the Regulator wrote to train operators and funders on 7 April 1998, and to Railtrack on 16 April 1998, posing a series of questions. These letters and the responses have been placed in the library of the Office of the Rail Regulator. The Regulator took the answers to these questions into account when assessing the extent to which Railtrack had complied with its obligations under Condition 7.

4. The references to delays caused by Railtrack include delays attributable to track and structures, power supply, the control system and vandalism and acts of God.

Railhub Archive ::: 1998-07-16 ORR-001


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