The fund takes the place of a £2m fine imposed by the regulator in August because of the chaos, confusion and delays at London Bridge station.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) found Network Rail in breach of licence in 2014-15. Analysis of performance found Southern and Govia Thameslink (GTR) combined represented a third of punctuality delays and nearly half of cancelled and significantly delayed services in England and Wales.
ORR’s investigation showed that:
- There were serious weaknesses in the data which informed the new timetables. For example, a number of the timetable modelling assumptions made were incorrect as they were based on flawed data.
- Network Rail was overly optimistic in estimating and assessing the impact of the new timetable on performance. It significantly underestimated the impact of the Thameslink programme on performance, which was further exacerbated by a timetable that was not robust.
- These issues resulted in very severe disruptions and frustrations for passengers using London Bridge station. The company failed to engage adequately with the train operators to understand what impact the new timetables would have on their passengers and services.
Today Network Rail’s Managing Director for England and Wales, Phil Hufton, said:
Passengers expect and deserve a high standard of service and we accept that we fell short for those travelling on Southern and Thameslink services last year.
Since then we have invested £11m to improve the railway around London Bridge and elsewhere in the region and performance has increased as a result. This extra £4m will continue the improvements we have already made and it is good news for passengers that the ORR has recognised this as a positive and practical alternative to a fine.
Network Rail has been able to identify funds amounting to more than double the proposed penalty, all of which will be invested in passenger improvements. The improvement plan will focus on passengers served by Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express trains and is designed to increase reliability, punctuality and the overall passenger experience of millions of passengers.
Among the initiatives Network Rail’s plan will fund are:
- Further increases to staff numbers at London terminus stations, including 15 extra staff at London Victoria
- Further improvements to passenger information displays at stations
- 20 new fast-response staff based at Brighton and Croydon depots to tackle problems on track when they happen
- Up to four times as many security patrols at stations in Sussex to reduce delays caused by trespassers