Network Rail, government owned, over spent and underperforming!

Lord Berkeley

Network Rail – Government owned, over spent and underperforming, according to the ORR. 

What next?

Network Rail is over spending its budget and under-performing on maintenance and renewals, but does not give the ORR enough data to enable them to be properly held to account. (ORR’s quarterly Rail monitor for the period April to September 2014.)

They are behind on output:  The Monitor states:  ‘At the end of period 7, plain line track renewals are 10% behind plan, but Network Rail is forecasting to recover the lost volume by the end of the year. Switches and crossings are 52% behind plan, and it will be much more difficult to recover this shortfall – Network Rail’s current forecast is for a shortfall of 28% at year end. The signalling programme is also significantly behind schedule and Network Rail is unlikely to recover the shortfall by the end of 2014-15. Its current forecast is to commission only half the planned volume of renewals. Work on civils assets is also well behind plan, with a 28% shortfall forecast by year end for underbridges, and a 42% shortfall for earthworks. Overhead line renewals are also well down, with less than half the planned work being forecast for completion by year end.’

This is confirmed by the Sunday Times article about a 3 year delay to Trans Pennine Electrification.

And the rusty signal post that fell on the track and could have derailed a high speed train.

They are overspentNetwork Rail has overspent its budget by £40m (year to date) and is now forecasting an overspend of £112m for the 2014-15. We currently expect the company to underperform the regulatory financial performance measure by around £300m in 2014-15. This measure compares Network Rail’s actual income and expenditure in CP5 to the financial assumptions in our PR13 determination of the company’s available funding in CP5. The measure takes into account whether Network Rail has delivered its required outputs’

Their asset data is not adequate to enable the ORR to measure their performance properly.

‘The quality of Network Rail’s asset data needs to improve to meet the challenge we have set out in the CP5 Final Determination’  This was a criticism made about Railtrack by the then Regulator Tom Winsor.  Ten years on the same criticism.

What next?  ORR state that NR says it will put all this right, so perhaps we need not worry!  However, Government may be; it generally has several choices for a company it owns but is not seen to be performing adequately.  The choice depends on the election cycle and how many of a minister’s pet projects are at risk!

Options include:

– Make NR put it right by massive efficiency savings

– Sack the NR Chairman

– Abolish the Office of Rail Regulation

– Reorganise the railway

– Do nothing until after the election!

My money is on the last one, so NR has six months to get it right!

Tony Berkeley

Tony us Chairman of the Rail Freight Group and a Member of Network Rail; the opinions expressed are his own.


8th December 2014


3 comments for “Network Rail, government owned, over spent and underperforming!

  1. MilesJSD
    09/12/2014 at 12:58 am

    Yet volumes of ‘private cars’ not only persist,
    and worldwide too,
    consumeristly careering all over our potholey roads,
    crazily increasing, polluting the air and toxifying such remaining health as the pedestrian population strives to save and maintain;
    and detract from rail-travel numbers,

    but continue senselessly, but nonetheless occupational-therapeuticly and economicly-patrioticly,
    “value-adding” to their respectively class-stratified owners’ “healthily-competitive” personal-identities and “social-mobility-ladder” positionings.
    Possibly one thing Lord Norton and maybe a significant number of other Public Servants has got right, ‘though.
    would be use of our rail-trains as safe and comfortable ‘offices’, and dearly-hopefully also as bodymindful-meditation timeframe providers;

    and that despite the risks of technological-material-‘fatigues’ all around them,
    which your scrutiny-informative post reveals to us the Unsuspecting-Public:
    and thank you for that.

  2. Bill Jones
    09/12/2014 at 5:26 pm

    It is fortunate that digital technology is likely to cause the phasing-out of telephone lines in their entirety, since the trrasmitters are so effective. Otherwise the same criticism might well apply to BT, who are still responsible for the lines, without having a monopoly over them. Monopoly or no monopoly, lines may well soon be a thing of the past.

  3. Tory Boy
    10/12/2014 at 4:40 pm

    Lord Berkeley,

    I am more disgraced at the lack of investment taking place in the Northern network, including the disgraceful use of pacer trains. It is about time the Northern Hub was speed-ed up and we in the North had some investment.

Comments are closed.