Sturgeon left red faced as Scottish rail ranks bottom in UK – operator paid 65,000 claims

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The Office of Road and Rail says Network Rail Scotland’s divisional score, which is funded by the Scottish Government, was 43.3 percent, compared to 74.6 percent for it’s best English counterpart. The publicly-funded body is in charge of the country’s rail infrastructure, including tracks and signals.

The score takes into account a range of issues from punctuality and customer satisfaction to safety and financial management.

The other UK regions were Southern England, which scored 74.6 percent. Wales and Western England scored 62.9 percent, Eastern England got 56.5 percent while North West and Central got a 56.1 percent mark.

The government rail watchdog also showed the body was 4 per cent short of their target in terms of service punctuality.

88.5 percent of services arrived at their destination within five minutes of schedule, lower than the officially set target of 92.5 percent which Network Rail forecast would not be met till March 2022.

 

There was also 1.24 minutes of delay per 100km of train travel in 2019-20 – 0.18 minutes worse than official targets.

The ORR report added: “Network Rail Scotland did not deliver the targets set by the Scottish Ministers or those agreed with its customers.

“However It has demonstrated that it understands what it needs to do to achieve its performance targets and, working closely with its customers, has plans in place to deliver these improvements.”

The pressure piles on as Network Rail Scotland is under pressure to deliver £347 million of efficiency savings over five years.

The ORR also scored Network Rail down after it failed to achieve targets for customer satisfaction, train performance, reduction in works complaints and other management.

The figures also claim worker safety requires improvement with the body failing to reduce the number of minor injuries, especially slips, trips and falls among workers.

It comes after the regulator issued two national improvement notices concerning track worker safety in 2019-20.

But the report said the rail body was “responding positively” to these.

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Network Rail was previously investigated by the transport regulator as it emerged that it was responsible for 66 percent of delays.

It meant Scotland’s train operator Scotrail had to pay out 65,000 successful claims from passengers in nine months.

But the regulator said Network Rail Scotland’s strongest performing areas were in safety, investment and asset management.

The report added: “While the reliability of Network Rail Scotland’s infrastructure is improving, it is important that it focuses on other areas where the proportion of delay remains high.

 

“Network Rail Scotland knows it must do this and has recently put in place plans and dedicated resources to help reduce delays associated with its operational management of the network. 

“Network Rail Scotland is specifically focused on reducing the level of ‘unexplained’ delay by investigating the worst performing routes to better understand the factors impeding performance.” 

It comes after pressure begins to mount to extend the iconic Borders Rail Route so Edinburgh will once again be connected with Carlisle via the Borders following the announcement of Boris Johnson’s £5bn infrastructure pledge.

John Larkinson, Chief Executive of the ORR, said: “We are also encouraged by the level of commitment that Network Rail has shown in delivering the Scottish Ministers’ requirements on enhancement projects such as the redevelopment of Scotland’s third busiest station, Glasgow Queen Street station and in areas that support delivery of the Scottish Ministers’ strategic objectives – for example working with the industry on plans for freight growth.

“Train service performance for passengers was below target, although it did improve during the year – and delays caused by Network Rail reduced.”

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