Taxpayers and rail users will soon be able to monitor Network Rail's progress against its regulated outputs and scrutinise the delivery of its multi-billion pound five-year plan for a better railway.
The Office of Rail Regulation recently revealed that Network Rail will be required to report more openly and transparently so that its progress and expenditure can be better understood by government, taxpayers and rail users. In addition, ORR will itself be scrutinising Network Rail's performance.
The reports and information which Network Rail and ORR will be publishing include:
- Network Rail: for the first time disaggregated information on train service performance will be published (and updated in every quarter), including data on punctuality, cancelled trains, average lateness and rail replacement buses.
- ORR: each quarter, areas of good performance and any emerging problems will be highlighted on ORR's data portal.
Value for money
- Network Rail: data on major investment will be published, including information on completion dates, costs and planned disruptions to passenger journeys.
- ORR: 'Monitor' reports will be issued in June and November over the next five years which will report on Network Rail's progress.
- Network Rail: regional asset information, including the condition of key assets such as track, bridges, buildings, earthworks, signalling and telecoms equipment will be published, along with volumes of work taking place.
- ORR: an annual report will be published which will analyse Network Rail's work to improve safety. In particular, this will look at Network Rail's progress in delivering new equipment (worth £250m) and safer working practices for track workers, as well as closures and upgrades to level crossings.
Climate change and resilience
- Network Rail: details of works to improve resilience to climate change on routes will be published by September 2014.
This sets up a two-pronged approach of scrutiny by both ORR and the public. It follows the announcement of Network Rail's reclassification by ONS onto the government's balance sheet to take effect from 1 September 2014.